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The decline of the Butlers of Ormonde


Kilkenny, Ireland —


During the early part of the 1900's, the family fortune of the
Butlers of Ormonde began to decline. The primary cause was apparently the decrease of rental property value. The Butlers were principal landlords in the Kilkenny region and beyond.

The loss of property value, and therefore of rental incomes, encouraged Lord Butler to sell parts of the family holdings — naturally decreasing any potential for income.

The Butlers, earls and dukes of Ormonde, owned Kilkenny Castle from 1391 until 1967.

Lord Ormonde also borrowed heavily. The high style of life to which he and his family had been accustomed (and which was expected of him in such a social position) was a factor in the decline of their wealth — he was apparently unable or unwilling to practice a reasonable austerity and cut expenses to a sustainable level.

In 1935, the state of the Butler family finances was dire enough that they held a great auction at the Kilkenny castle, the seat of their power. They sold everything that was not a part of the building itself.

In 1967, Arthur Butler, sixth Marquess and twenty-third Earl of Ormonde, sold the castle and its gorgeous walled demesne to the city of Kilkenny for the nominal sum of £50 — about €1500 in 2006 money.


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