1769, Marriage Performed Cork Bishop of Cork Dr. John Butler, Brother of Lord Dunboyne, between Doctor Connell O’Carroll and Miss Goold (Gould) daughter of Francis Goold, Merchant, Cork, with Fortune of £3,000. Resignation of Bishop Butler to Retain Family Title and later Marriage and birth of Daughter.
From Dr. Caulfield extraction of notices in Cork Evening Post.
The notice is interesting on a number of fronts. The Goulds were one of a number of Old Catholic Merchant families expelled from Cork and debarred under the Penal Laws from land dealing and the legal profession. Like many such families they became merchants, but the mid 18th century they were a considerable force and probably had the balance of economic power by 1900. Daniel O’Connell’s evidence in 1828 to a Parliamentary enquiry in London was that at that stage, the Catholics had most of the deposits at the Bank of Ireland and most of the stock of the Company.
By the time of this marriage the Penal Laws were not enforced, the Bishop lived openly and was a respected figure and the programme of church building began.
Bishop Butler, Courtesy Fethard at Home:
HEIR TO A TITLE
At that time it was very much considered that titles should be passed on and remain directly hereditary within the immediate family. The Butler family were of ‘noble blood’ and well known land owners. As mentioned Bishop John Butler was the third son of the 18th Earl of Dunboyne. On the death of the 18th Earl in 1772 his eldest son, James, became the 19th Earl. Pierce, brother of James who died in 1768 became the 20th Lord. Pierce died in 1773 and his son also named Pierce became the 21st Lord. The 21st Lord was nephew of Bishop John Butler. He died in 1786 and the title of Lord Dunboyne was passed to Bishop John Butler certainly raised a problem which he was very concerned about. As he was a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church he could not legitimately beget an heir.
He finally decided to apply to the Pope for permission to get married to beget an heir and considered that being a Butler permission would be granted. He also resigned as Bishop of Cork on 12th December, 1786.
In the Parish of Drom; Co. Tipperary tradition has it that at Brookley House, a Butler residence, the Bishop while under the influence of drink met Miss Maria Butler, a Protestant from Wilford who encouraged his attentions. This girl whom the Baron wished to make his Baroness and mother of his heir was Maria Butler aged 23, younger daughter of Theobald Butler Wilford, Co. Tipperary. Wilford House is about four miles NW of Mullinahone. Lord Dunboyne (John Butler) spent the Christmas of 1786 at Wilford House and before he left Theobald Butler told his daughter Maria that his Lordship had asked him for her hand in marriage. Maria said she understood Roman Catholic Clergy could not marry. Lord Dunboyne said he had petitioned the Holy Father and he felt that in view of the circumstances and being a Butler that he would get a dispensation.
A RELUCTANT YES
An immediate reply was not asked of Maria, but without delay she was taken by her father to Catherine O’ Brien Butler’s at Bansha , Co. Tipperary and Lord Dunboyne came from Cork to visit them. Maria considered all the factors and reluctantly said ‘yes’ to the marriage. They were married at the end of April 1787 possibly in St. Mary’s church of Ireland, Clonmel. This event was directly reported to Rome by the Archbishop of Cashel and it caused great worry and controversy both at home and abroad. On the 11th August, 1787 the Archbishop of Cashel (Dr. James Butler II) met Lord Dunboyne – the former Bishop of Cork at the house of a mutual friend. – Dr. Fogarty of Clonmel – where the Archbishop handed over a parchment (a lengthy one) to Lord Dunboyne which the Archbishop had received from Rome showing the Holy Father’s grief and affliction at the situation. When Lord Dunboyne had finished reading the letter (dated 9th June 1787) he pleaded “I fear my case has not been fully understood. I am not a young man, nor am I seeking release from my vows for selfish reasons. The Holy Father must be told again that I am solely concerned with the continuation of our family..” It was to no avail to point out the gravity of the situation as he made up his mind that he had done the right thing.
Lord Dunboyne was received into the Established Church on the 19th August, 1787 at St. Mary’s church, Clonmel by Rev. MR. Dunlevy. A crowd assembled outside the church and protested. His apostasy gave rise to renewed intense and bitter sorrow. He never became a very active member of his new church. For the next few years Lord and Lady Dunboyne lived at home at Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath with the summers spent at their summer residence at Gracefield now part of the Loreto Convent, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. Maria was delivered of an infant girl which did not live longer than half and hour – tradition has it that it was a premature baby and that it is buried in the Augustinian Friary at Fethard. Both Lord and Lady Dunboyne fell into a deep depression and Maria’s father arranged a diversion of a Dublin life by renting a town house at 18 Leesons Street, Dublin. It was here that Lord Dunboyne lived out his life.
In April 1791 the first convict ship sailed from Cork to Australia and The United Irishmen were formed that same year. In May 1794 Maria was introduced to James Butler, a Grand Nephew of the Archbishop of Cashel, and the rightful heir to the title of Lord Dunboyne- she was not at all pleased as she wished that Lord Dunboyne would will his title to her brother.
Dunboyne village was burned down by the troops in the rebellion of 1798 and the little chapel destroyed. Lord Dunboyne offered the Parish Priest, Father Connell, a new site for the chapel. During a visit of Lord Dunboyne to Tipperary the Parish Priest of Kilusty near Fethard interceded with him for assistance. He gave him a chalice dated 1621. The chalice is still preserved at Fethard. Lord Dunboyne’s conscience seems to have been troubling him- his marriage barren and now in his 69th year his health was failing. He greatly longed for reconciliation with Rome and he wrote to the Holy Father through Dr. Troy, Archbishop of Dublin, on 2nd May, 1800. Dr. Troy meanwhile asked Dr. William Gahan, O.S.A. (an old friend of Lord Dunboyne) to visit him. Dr. William Gahan was at this time the best known religious writer in the English speaking world and was a former Provincial of the Augustinian Order. Dr. Gahan confessed the old man, who died at 18 Leeson Street, Dublin 2 on the 7th May, 1800. He is buried with his daughter under the Sanctuary in the Augustinian Church, Fethard, Co. Tipperary.
Even though Lord Dunboyne did not regain Kiltinan Castle, Fethard, Co. Tipperary from the Cookes he was an extensive property owner and a well-off man. He made a comprehensive and lengthy will on 1st May, 1800 in which he provided for his immediate family as well as leaving substantial property to Maynooth College including Dunboyne Castle. His will was contested by his sister, Mrs Catherine O’ Brien Butler, Bansha, Co. Tipperary at Trim, Co. Meath assizes on 24th August, 1802. Dr. Gahan gave admirable evidence at the trial. After a long hearing the will was found to be valid and the parties reached agreement subsequently.
James Butler (the cousin that Lady Dunboyne did not welcome) petitioned the Lord Lieutenant and became the 23rd Lord Dunboyne. He was a cousin of the ‘bishop of Cork’ and nephew of James I Archbishop of Cashel. The present Lord Dunboyne is a direct descendant of James Butler the 23rd Lord. Lady Dunboyne was 23 when she married Lord Dunboyne who was then 57. She outlived him by 60 years dying in 1860 aged 95 years. She remarried in September 1801 John Hubert Moore and they had one son born in 1805. Maria was widowed again in 1822. She lived at Shannon Grove, Co. Galway and is buried in the cemetery at nearby Clonfert Cathedral.