The 14th Century Butlers

The fourteenth century Butlers, created earls of Ormond, and the acquisition of Kilkenny Castle

When James Butler (c.1305-1338) was created the first earl of Ormond in 1328 he was also granted a life-grant of the liberty of Tipperary, which became the Butler Palatinate in that area that was held by his descendants until 1716.

It was another James (c.1360-1405), 3rd Earl of Ormond, magnate and Justiciar of Ireland, who acquired Kilkenny Castle and added strategic lands in the Barrow-Nore-Suir basin to their already extensive holdings.

Under his personal rule the Butler lordship became a more cohesive entity. Nearby Gowran was where the family’s main residence was situated and it was there also that the early earls were buried. At the time of his first visit to Ireland in 1394-95, King Richard II regarded Ormond as the premier Irish earl and appointed him Justiciar of Ireland.

By this time the Ormonds had forged a network of alliances with both the Irish and Gaelicised Anglo-Normans, and had now reached a position where they were in possession of one of the three most powerful Anglo-Norman lordships in Ireland.