The Butler Castle

James Butler (c.1360-1405), 3rd Earl of Ormond, purchased Kilkenny Castle in 1391. At the time of that purchase, the setting of Kilkenny Castle was described in documents as ‘a great park opposite the gate of the castle there, a dovecot in the same park, a garden, a fishery of the river, a weir there, six acres of land in le Inches’ and ‘castle orchard’, ‘eleven acres of heye’ and ‘a garden opposite the gate of the castle’.

This additional information places the castle within orchards and meadows, all situated in a park. The gate of the castle at that time faced southwards and was probably of similar structure to the double towered gateway as illustrated in a later drawing.

Features of particular interest from earlier phases of construction are the wicker centering, used to support the vault, which is clearly visible in the lowest level of the west tower and the fine medieval chamber in the Parade (South) Tower that has deep embrasures with defensive arrow loops.

The Butler Lordship

James (1390-1452), 4th Earl of Ormond, was a major figure in Ireland where he served as chief governor for long periods. Because of his high status, the fourth earl would have made extensive improvements to his many properties including his castle at Kilkenny.

The building of a rectangular tower abutting the circular north tower is possibly from this period. This would have provided more spacious and comfortable lodgings for his family.