The Butlers return to Kilkenny Castle
When Walter Butler (1703-83), (de jure) 16th Earl of Ormonde succeeded his cousin John to the depleted estates, he faced a huge task, that of repairing and refurbishing the long neglected buildings. Edward Ledwich leaves us a detailed description of the castle during Walter’s tenancy, c.1783, when he informs us that the castle ‘has lately been much improved’.
He also remarks that ‘in the courtyard are the foundations of buildings and opposite the door of the house is a clock placed in an old tower’. The foundations referred to were probably those of the buildings of the second duke, and the clock had been inserted in the medieval gatehouse. Ledwich also informs us that the couple living at the castle ‘continued as Roman Catholics’ and he goes on to describe their chapel, which had an alter, a tabernacle and ‘a Madonna over it’.
Another visitor, Philip Luckombe in 1780, also mentions a chapel but situates it outside the gate and tells us that two of the buildings in the courtyard are ‘under repair’. He then comments that one is being rebuilt, ‘but in a taste too modern for a building of such antiquity, and too frippery for one of such magnitude’.