Noble graveyard in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

Walking the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, we happened upon a family graveyard, home to the various Earls of Ormonde. The Butlers of Ormonde owned Kilkenny Castle for nearly six centuries. They had quite the run, from 1391 to 1967.

Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

High cross in Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

From what I read, the graveyard was established 1921 but the graves date back a lot longer. It was consecrated by W. Parkenham Walsh, Bishop of Ossory in 1894 so I wonder if by established, they mean that it was fenced in with iron railings and the monument styled as a Celtic High Cross added? One inscription reads:

This cross was erected in loving memory of James Edward William Theobald, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde, by his widow Elizabeth Harriet Grosvenor. 1921.

I was curious about both James and Elizabeth. On checking his lineage, I was even more curious about the illegitimate Margaret Wyderville. Margaret came of a union between Anthony Wydeville and one Gwenllian Stradling, who the genealogy site lists as Wydeville’s partner.  This, alongside details of both his wives and his beheading, shows how different times were then.

Grave in Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle


When James’s father died in 1854, he inherited a plethora of titles: 13th Viscount Thurles; 15th Earl of Ossory; 3rd Marquess of Ormonde; 3rd Baron Butler of Llanthony, co. Monmouth;  21st Earl of Ormonde. My one question is how was he announced to society when attending those period socials? Was it a question of waking up that day and choosing who he was going to be? Did he ever have an identity crisis?

His wife Elizabeth apparently closely resembled her mother-in-law, the previous Marchioness, Frances Jane Paget, with a certain miniature being incorrectly identified as being of Frances but actually being of Elizabeth. Europe back then was like a village when it came to the nobility. Or was it a case of James subconsciously seeking a wife that reminded him of his mother. Psychology Today ran an interesting piece on this phenomenon a few years back.

When the Honorable Charles Butler, 31st Chief Butler of Ireland and 25th Earl of Ormonde, died in Chicago in 1997, he was 7th and final Marquess of Ormonde. The Earldom may well go to the 18th Viscount Mountgarret, Piers Butler, who succeeded his father in 2004, should he successfully prove his claim. Oh, the headiness of it all. Charles’s cousin, Lord Arthur Butler, 6th Marquis, was the one who gave Kilkenny Castle to the city in 1967. He and his first wife, Nan, the mother of his two daughters, are buried in the Butler Cemetery. He married again when he was in his mid-seventies to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Rarden. From what I can figure out (but am open to correction). She died about four years later, aged 79. There has to be some romance there. Try as I might, I can find nothing on his second wife, Elizabeth. I’d need Uncle Hugo, from Tana French’s The Wych Elm to solve the puzzle for me. How did they meet? What was their story? Enquiring minds want to know.

Charles had some pedigree:

Notable ancestors include Charlemagne (747-814), Alfred the Great (849-899), Hugh Capet (c940-996), Henry II of England (1133-1189), William I of England (1027-1087). Ancestors are from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, the Byzantine Empire, Sweden.

What was it like, I wonder, for her to marry into that family? Was she a DAR with a nobility of her own? Oh, the questions graveyards leave you with. What fascinating places they are.

The family dog, Sandy, still watches over his peeps from outside the railing.

Tombstone for Sandy the dog in Bulter family cemetery in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle

@ 2024 Mary Murphy