What Queen Elizabeth II Missed In Thurles

"Walter of the Rosaries (Beads) " Chalice.

No disrespect to the beautiful town of Cashel here in Co. Tipperary or indeed to our recent special guest, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. However, a word to those whom we elected to promote Irish tourism and our historic town of Thurles in Co. Tipperary, – be ashamed, be red faced, consider resignations.

Yes I am of course referring to those over paid individuals who hold public office at local, county and national level, the unseen faces behind Shannon Development, Discover Ireland, North Tipperary County Council, Thurles Town Council and in particular Shannon Region Tourism group.

By stating “in particular Shannon Region Tourism group,” I am of course referring to the fact that in 2011, yet again, Thurles has been treated as the ‘Poor Relation.’  Click Here, and note, just for starters, Thurles and Roscrea are not even worthy of a mention on their Shannon Region map included on their web-page, or in their rail travel listings and barely gets a mention in their recently launched School Tours promotion.

But enough on that, as I will be discussing Shannon Region Tourism’s transgressions, in depth at a later date, in an effort to raise discussion on what share of the Irish Government’s allocation of more than €155 million for tourism last year, actually materialised in ‘dear old North Tipperary,’ compared with what was spent west of the river Shannon.

Instead I am going to introduce, for the first time to many of our readers, the historically important “Walter of the Rosaries Chalice,“made by Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormonde. Such a shame latter was not shown to Queen Elizabeth II on her recent visit to Tipperary.

(Do click the picture on right, to see full resolution photograph of this priceless piece of our local heritage.) Photo: Courtesy George Willoughby.

As I have explained in previous posts on this site, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is a native of Thurles, with direct ancestors going back to the early/mid 17th century and to Thomas Butler’s marriage to Elizabeth Poyntz. So to put this Chalice in context Walter Butler was father of the latter Thomas Butler, known as Viscount Thurles, latter who died in 1619.

Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormonde and 4th Earl of Ossory (1569 – 1633), was an Irish peer, the son of John Butler of Kilcash and of Lady Katherine MacCarthy, latter the daughter of Cormac na Haoine MacCarthy Reagh, 10th Prince of Carbery. He inherited the title of this Earldom because his uncle Thomas (Black Tom or Thomas Dubh) had died without producing a legitimate male heir.

Walter served as a Member of Parliament for Tipperary and being a very devout Roman Catholic, he was known as “Walter of the Rosaries ” or Beads. His claim to the family estates was thwarted by James I of England.  The Ormond Butlers had owned most of counties Kilkenny and Tipperary, including Thurles. King James had sought to engineer the marriage of Black Tom’s daughter and heiress, Elizabeth Butler, with one of his own Scottish favourites, Richard Preston. He made Richard Preston Earl of Desmond and awarded Elizabeth, instead of Walter, most of the Ormond estates in Tipperary.

Following much litigation by Walter Butler in fighting this decision, King James made an award to which Earl Walter refused to accept and in in 1617, King James had him committed to the Fleet Prison, where he remained for six years in poverty.

The Butler chalice was made in 1620 for Walter Butler, the rightful 11th Earl of Ormond and his wife Ellane, while still in prison.  In 1620 the family was in deep trouble.  The previous year their son, Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, who lived in the Castle at the top of Liberty Square, had been drowned off Skerries while going to England to answer charges of treason, regarding the garrisoning of Kilkenny City.

Walter got out of jail in 1625 when he got the title and part of the estates back from the next English king, Charles I.  The rest of the estates were only returned in 1629 and 1630 when Walter’s grandson, James Butler (later the Duke of Ormond) effectively purchased the 14-year-old Preston heiress from her guardians and married her.

Walter Butler died in Carrick-on-Suir, Co.Tipperary and was buried in St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny on 18th of June 1633.

Such a pity Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II did not get an invitation to her native town, if only to view this wonderful piece of her historical past.

My thanks to Monsignor Dr Maurice Dooley, Loughmore for his assistance in compiling the above historical facts.



1 comment to What Queen Elizabeth II Missed In Thurles

  • Eamonn Shanahan

    The Chalice is such a beautiful piece of art and with that, among the many other aspects of historical artifacts such as the stunning Tabernacle in the Cathedral, dating back to the time of da Vinci..would have thought the huge media attention would have attracted many art followers and historians alike, boosting our local tourism sector

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




12 − eight =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.