The Golden Jubilee Rally of The Butler Society was held over the Bank Holiday weekend at Kilkenny Castle with members travelling from around the world to attend this special occasion.
A family group of Ormonde descendants lead by Lady Cynthia Hammer, one of the two daughters of Charles Butler, 7th Marquess of Ormonde (1899-1997) was amongst the 120 people who attended.
Lady Cynthia was accompanied by her husband Col. Russell Hammer (American Air Force, retired) her nephew, Andrew Butler Soukup with his wife Kathleen, her cousin John Jennings, with his wife Sharmaine, daughter Marakech, son-in-law Rob Lowry, granddaugther Anthea plus other family members.
The Rally opened with an official reception at Kilkenny Castle on the Friday evening. After that the group adjourned to Kilkenny famous nightspot, the Hole In the Wall. a favourite tavern in a Tudor House, which in the past was much frequented by John Butler of Kilkenny Castle the 17th earl of Ormond (died 1795).
Next day it was off to The former Palatinate of the Ormonds, the county of Tipperary which they made their first stop at the recently renovated Elizabethan manor house and castle of Carrick-on-suir. Then it was onto Kilcash via Clonmel. Here the party had lunch at the village community hall which was followed by a brief visit to the nearby former Butler-Ormond castle which was the subject of a recent conservation by the Office of Public Works. Then in was back to Kilkenny Castle for a reception hosted by the Office of Public Works which was followed by dinner.
Mr. Maurice Buckley, the chairman of the OPW and his wife Mary were amongst the dinner guests as was the Mayor of Kilkennny and other Local Authority guests. Sunday was spent visiting Ennisnag Church of Ireland where Hubert Butler, his wife Peggy (née Guthrie) and niece Melosina Lenox-Conyngham are buried. All three held key roles within The Butler Society. Flowers were laid on their grave after Sunday morning service which was celebrated by Archdeacon Bantry White, who lives nearby.
Then it was onto Thomastown and Inistioge for lunch at two local houses while in the evening the group attended a showing of a film on the life and achievements of Hubert Butler (1900-91) who was one of the founder members of the Society. This was held at St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny, courtesy of the Rev. Dr. Dermot Ryan (President of St Kieran's College). Next day the last day of the mini rally saw visits to Ballysallagh House (courtesy of Mr & Mrs. K. White) and Ballyduff House (courtesy of Mrs B. Thomas). The group also paid a visit to St. Canice's Cathedral where a mural plaque was unveiled to the memory of Charles Butler who was the last Marquess of Ormonde which title is now extinct. The twin earldoms of Ormond (1328) and Ossory (1528) and the Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland (c. 1180) survive to be claimed. Dean Katherine Poulton, Dean of St. Canices showed the group the William and Mary Communion Cup and Paten of 1694 which are amongst the treasures of that Cathedral. The Communion silver was presented to the cathedral through the agency of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde (died 1745) who was a cousin by blood to the House of Orange Nassau, as well as to the Hydes (earls of Clarendon), from which family the mother of Queen Mary wife of William of Orange descended.
After lunch at Kilkenny Castle the group disbanded to the four corners of the world, many promising to return again next year when we have our triennial rally which is expected to be based in London around places with a connection to Anne Boleyn (whose paternal grandmother was a daughter of Thomas BUtler, 7th earl of Ormond, 1515) one of Henry V111's less fortunate wives of whom it is said 'divorced (Catherine of Aragon), beheaded (Anne Boleyn), died (Jane Seymour), divorced (Anne of Cleves) beheaded (Catherine Howard), survived (Catherine Parr). Many believe that Ann Boleyn was born at Carrick-on-Suir and for a short time in the 1520s before her involvement with Henry V111, was the financee of James Butler 9th earl of Ormond (died 1546) as a result of food poisoning while attending a feast at Ely House, Holborn, London with eighteen of his household.
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