GPS Coordinates: 52.2320, -8.6701 | View On Google Maps ⇨
The medieval town of Buttevant (French word for advanced stronghold) was founded by the powerful Anglo-Norman, De Barry family. The De Barry’s planned the town carefully, with a specific grid pattern similar to those found in Normandy in France. By 1230 there was a Market House, Lombards castle, De Barry Castle and a Franciscan Friary at Buttevant.
In 1317 King Edward II of England paid £105 towards the enclosure of the town with stone walls. The walls originally surrounded 5-15 hectares of land and were 600-800m in length. In 1375 King Edward III gave additional money to improve Buttevant’s North gate and ‘waste’. The walls of the town contained at least two gates: the north gate and the south gate. There was possibly a south-east cylindrical tower, but no evidence for a fosse or ramparts exists.
Buttervant’s walls suffered from raids by the O’Briens, the McCarthys and O’Callaghans. The Desmond Rebellion (16th century) and the Williamite War (17th century) destroyed large amounts of the medieval town wall. Today Buttevants town wall is almost entirely gone. In some areas it survives in small patches, in various states of repair. For example the limestone wall surrounding Buttervants GAA grounds is believed to have been constructed from the medieval town wall.
There are plenty of places to see inside Buttevant. The first stop is the Neo-gothic 18th century St Mary’s Church, which stands beside the ruins of a 13th century Franciscan friary. This friary contains some richly decorated stonework and the crypt of the De Barry family. Beside the gable of the Franciscan friary, a small section of the original medieval town wall can be seen.
Other places to see include Barry Castle (castle and grounds are privately owned), Lombard’s Castle built c.1400 by the Lombard’s, a family of wool merchants and tax collectors originally from Italy. There is also the Georgian Market House built in 1750 on the site of the original 13th century Market House and St John’s Church and graveyard which was built in 1826 on the site of a medieval predecessor. St Johns elegant church was actually the starting point for the world’s first steeplechase.
You can’t leave Buttevant without visiting Ballybeg Abbey. The impressive ruins contain one of the best preserved dovecotes in Ireland. Inside the circular tower, the Augustinians kept 365 birds as an easy source of meat.