Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Ballintemple House
Co Carlow

Ballintemple House c.1891
Map of Ballintemple
Source: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage website
Ballintemple House
Source: Turtle Bunbury

The Butlers of Ballin Temple

The area has been the home of the same family for over 800 years by some counts and nearly 400 years by others. The clan may be referred to as "the Butlers of Ballin Temple" in genealogical circles. It is descended from the Vikings (or Norse men) that came through Normandy, England and then Ireland in 1189. Theobald Walter, the first Butler, derived the name from the title "bouteilleur" an official, political post, like Steward or Chamberlain, which entitled the holder to 10% of all wine cargo docking in Ireland!


Ballintemple House

Ballintemple started life as a sanctuary for members of the Knights Templar on leave from the Crusades. The estate formed part of William Marshall's vast inheritance through his marriage with Strongbow’s daughter in the late 12th century. 500 years later, the land was granted to Sir Thomas Butler of Cloghrennan, a first cousin of the “Great Duke” of Ormonde. Sir Richard is the thirteenth generation in descent from Sir Thomas. His forbears generally played a modest role in the affairs of state. Perhaps the most notable family member was Piers Butler, sometime Senator of South Carolina and co-signatory of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

One hundred years ago the Ballintemple estate amounted to some 7000 acres, upon which Sir Richard’s grandfather developed his passion for breeding Aberdeen Angus and Clydesdale shire-horses. He married Alice Mease, a granddaughter of the American actress Fanny Kemble. On moving to the ancestral manor house at Ballintemple, the well-travelled Lady Alice described the estate as "one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen … in the spring the woods are literally carpeted with bluebells, the bluest and largest I have ever seen, often having fifteen bells on one stalk".

The burning of Ballintemple House in 1917, attributed to a plumber's blow-lamp and dry-rot filled rafters, was a great loss to Carlow’s architectural legacy. The shell was later demolished and only the 19th century classical portico now remains. The Butler family then relocated to England where Sir Richard’s father, Sir Tom Butler, served as Resident Governor of the Tower of London. Subsequent confiscation’s and compulsory purchases by the Irish Land Commission whittled the Butler estate down to a few acres when Sir Richard inherited the property.

Source: Turtle Bunbury website

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