Home Of Lady Thurles To Be Fully Restored

The 16th Century Norman ‘Black Castle’ In Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Is To Be Restored.

The former ‘Black Castle’, west of Liberty Square, close to the Charles Stewart Parnell carpark, in Thurles, Co. Tipperary; once home of Lord Viscount Thomas Butler & his wife, Lady Viscountess Elizabeth Butler (alias Poyntz), has been sold.

Dr. Phyllis Maher, [Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Timothy Maher Finance]; Independent Dáil Éireann Deputy Mr Michael Lowry, TD & Sir Timothy Maher, [Chairman & Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Timothy Maher Finance]

The privately-owned building had been offered for sale in May of last year by the Kenny family; relatives of the late Mr Billy Maher (Victualler), through the offices of Mr Sean Spain Auctioneers & Valuers, No 21 Fianna Rd, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The hugely historical building, in vacant possession, has now been purchased by Sir Timothy Maher (Knight of Innisfallen & Chairman & Chief Financial Officer (CFO), of Timothy Maher Finance) & his Lady wife American born Dr. Phyllis Maher (Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Timothy Maher Finance). The couple are also well respected in antiquities and fine art circles.

Sir Timothy Maher, well remembered for his hurling prowess as a student in Cashel CBS, is originally a native of Boherlahan, Cashel, Co. Tipperary; son to the late Mr Michael Maher & Mrs Dina Maher, Castle Farm, Thurlesbeg, Co. Tipperary.  His grandfather was Mr William Maher, Knocka, Drom, Co. Tipperary; a former Chairperson of North Tipperary Co. Council, whose son Fr. Thomas F. Maher, in turn was ordained a priest in St Patrick’s College, Thurles, now Mary Immaculate College, Thurles.

His wife, Dr. Phyllis Maher, who is a retired Medical Practitioner and who in the past specialised in serious trauma cases; is the only daughter of Mr Woodrow (Sean) O’Shields & Mrs Mildred O’Shields (nee O’Sullivan), natives of Oughterard, Co. Galway. Dr. Maher was conceived in Ireland and born a shortly time later, following the arrival of her parents in America.

Of course, the surname of ‘Butler’  is no stranger to the new purchasers, as Mr David Butler, former business proprietor in Liberty Square, Thurles and his sister M/s Jean Butler, a former Principal at the Presentation Convent here in Thurles for some 18 years; we discover, are Sir Timothy Maher’s in-laws.

The purchasers were first introduced to the property by Independent TD Deputy Mr Michael Lowry, who became aware that the couple were searching for a substantial property here in Ireland and suggested that they contact Mr Sean Spain, with a view to purchasing a building with a rich historical heritage. Following Mr Lowry’s invitation and a viewing of the property led by Mr Spain; Sir Timothy and Dr. Phyllis Maher; themselves lovers of Irish history, fell in love with the building and made their decision to purchase.

The successful firm of DHRyan Architects, No.1 Liberty Square, Thurles, have now been employed to undertake a feasibility study of the site and its associated buildings, and to prepare a development brief for the new purchasers. Solicitor Mr James J. Meagher (Thomas F. Griffin Parnell St, Thurles) have been retained to deal with all aspects of the site transfer.

Speaking afterwards to individuals with a major interest in promoting tourism within Thurles and the greater Co. Tipperary area, Michael Lowry TD stated; “I forecast exciting times ahead over the next 16 months for the town of Thurles; where a historical and iconic building, which was falling into dereliction, will rise once more to enhance our westerly horizon.”

“It should be noted” stated Lowry, “that the building may have become known as the Black castle in the past; due to it appearing as a black silhouette against the setting sun, however I remain confident that the new developers, through their love of history and antiquities, will give Thurles a sense of even greater pride in the months ahead, as necessary work is completed.”

So, who was Lord and Lady Thurles
Lady Thurles, (Elizabeth Poyntz) was formerly a native of Gloucestershire, England, and history records that her parents, who resided in Acton Court, Gloucestershire, once hosted King Henry VIII and the second and the most famous of his six wives, Miss Anne Boleyn, both who visited and stayed with the Poyntz household on Saturday August 21st, 1535, thus emphasising the social standing of the then Poyntz family. (Anne Boleyn was subsequently executed by King Henry, being beheaded, less than one year later, on the 19th May 1536.)

Thomas Butler (Lord Thurles) was son of Walter Butler “Walter of the Rosaries,” latter probably the first of the Butler family to take up residence in the Black Castle. [Note: The “Walter of the Rosaries,” Chalice still exists in Thurles to this very day. Thomas married Miss Elizabeth Poyntz in 1608, against her father’s wishes; Sir John Poyntz was then seriously in debt, and would die penniless in 1633.

Lord Viscount Thurles was summoned from Tipperary by King James 1st, (1603–1625) to England in 1619 to answer charges of treason, but the ship, conveying him, was wrecked in a storm off the coast of Wales, in an area known as ‘The Skerries‘ and he was drowned 10 days before Christmas, on 15th December 1619.

His wife Lady Elizabeth Butler (Poyntz), the celebrated ‘Lady Thurles’ now found herself a widow and a lone parent of three sons and four daughters.

After the death of Lord Viscount Thurles, Lady Thurles, married again, less than one year later in 1620, Captain George Mathew of Radyr and Llandaff in Glamorganshire, Wales, by whom Lady Thurles had a further two sons and one daughter.

Captain George Mathew died at Tenby in Wales in 1636.  A period portrait, oil on canvas, of Lady Viscountess Thurles is in the possession of the Tipperary County Library, situated in The Source building, in Cathedral Street, Thurles.

Elizabeth and Thomas Butler, through their first son James FitzThomas Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, is a direct progenitor (ancestor) to Charles Prince of Wales, whom readers will know as the eldest son and heir apparent to the British throne, set to follow the present Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England.

The late Princess Diana is also connected to the history of the castle through one of the daughters of the said Lord Thomas and Lady Elizabeth of Thurles, (namely Mary Butler).  She married into the Hamilton family, and her later descendants would eventually marry into the Spencer family, leaving the late Princess Diana a 12th cousin, twice removed, of Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay since 1952.

Despite a visit from Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army during the period 1658 to 1660, Lady Thurles and her children resided in the castle for a great deal of her life from her marriage until her death in 1673.


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