Parish of Bansha Kilmoyler Kiladriffe Cemetery Bansha and Kilmoyler

About Kiladriffe
Kiladriffe Poems by William Butler
A US Civil War Connection

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About Kiladriffe

Kiladriffe Cemetery is one of the burial grounds in use in the parish of Bansha and Kilmoyler.
Killardrigh - Church of the High King - is said to be called after an Ard Rí, High King of Munster, who met his death while bathing in the nearby Suir. (see map) It has been variously known as Kilardry, Kilaldriffe and Kiladriffe, the latter two being most currently in most popular use.

Most of those buried here lived and died in the shadow of the Galtees and are buried in this lovely spot in sight of Slievenamon. There are among them some who travelled and returned and others remembered were killed in action on battle-fields in Burma and Atlanta.

Surely the most travelled man of local origin of his time, Lieutenant General William Francis Butler (see biography) is buried here. While serving the Crown in India, Africa and Canada his love for his native soil was expressed in his poems. The troops and artillery pieces mustered from Cahir Barracks for his burial with military honours in 1910, made a great impression on the local people. The two poems here indicate that, for William Butler, being buried in his beloved Kiladriffe was an honour of significance to him.
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the little ivied ruin


There's a little ivied ruin whose walls are crumbling low,
  where the thistle and the brier all in wild confusion grow.
There's a withered tree beside it with branches bare and high,
  where the wintery tempests shiver and the summer breezes sigh.
And I often seek that ruin, and sit beneath the tree,
  for the music of the breezes sound sadly sweet to me.
But 'tis not for the ruin or the old tree that I care,
  but for those whose sleep is shadowed by ivy growing there.

The sentiment of these lines, written by William Butler while in India, have surely been echoed by many who left this parish to spend their lives in exile and who, unlike the author, never returned to be buried here.




A US Civil War Connection

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One exile who surely visited this cemetery in his youth was William Britt, baptised in the parish of Bansha/Kilmoyler in 1824, son of John Britt and Bess Pyne. Britt was buried as "unknown" for one hundred and thirty-five years. The Nationalist recently carried details of how this U.S. Civil War Soldier was buried in Grave K – 3420 in the National Cemetery at Marietta, Georgia. (The Britt/Brett variance is easily attributed to the transcription of emigrant's names which are often more properly pronounced in exile than at home where anglicised forms became preferred.)

William Britt enlisted in the 5th Iowa Cavalry in 1862. He was under the command of William Sherman who had been made supreme commander of the armies in the West in early 1864. (Civil War Timeline of 1864) Sherman's commission from Grant was to "create havoc and destruction of all resources that would be beneficial to the enemy." William Britt was one of a detail which was engaged in the destruction of railway line on 18 July 1864. He was injured in an engagement with a trainload of cadets which arrived as they worked. The wounds he sustained required that he be left in hospital at Notasulga, as were seven others.

While they were hospitalised, their companions went on to fight in the Siege of Atlanta, known to many from its portrayal in the film, Gone with the Wind.

William Britt died on 8 August 1864. Following the Civil War, the United States Army transferred the remains at the National Cemetery at Marietta, Georgia. There, the now unknown soldier was re-buried in Grave K-3420.

A Century Later

The investigation which led to the identification of the grave's unknown occupant was initiated by American Civil War historian, David Evans, a writer and historian and the author of numerous articles on the Civil War and of the book Sherman's Horsemen: Union Cavalry Operations in the Atlanta Campaign. Wishing to establish whether there was any information extant in Ireland, he contacted the Tipperary Heritage Unit.
Under the guidance of Anne Moloney, the local connection was explored and established.

Parishioner gathered to send a sod to Marietta National Cemetery, to be laid when the new tombstone is placed and dedicated with military honours. This has been ordered by James H. Wallace, administrator of the Marietta National Cemetery, once the identity of the grave's occupant was established to his satisfaction.

Dan Dwyer, Parish Priest and Anne Moloney of the Heritage Unit addressed those gathered on 1 June 1999.


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Malachy Brett breaks the ground. As William Britt's grave has now been identified, a sod from Kiladriffe was taken on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. for shipment to the grave-site in Georgia.
The Brett family plot, in which William Brett would most likely have been buried had he remained in Ireland, yielded the sod for this hitherto lost son.
Malachy, Anne and Bridget Bourke. Descendants of the Brett and Pyne families gathered to mark this poignant occasion.
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Britt was one of the numerous exiles who became involved in the Civil War in his adopted country. A comprehensive number of sites offer information on the US Civil War. Example

A Request

General Butler's poem A Request expresses the soldier's wish - that one not be left unknown on a foreign field. Though soldiers in different campaigns and causes, General Butler and Private Britt will have in common that they will lie under a native sod, remembered in the place of their birth.
Give me but six foot three (one inch to spare),
  Of Irish earth, and dig it anywhere;
And for my poor soul say an Irish prayer.
  Above the spot.

Let it be where cloud and mountain meet,
  Or vale where grows the tufted meadow-sweet;
Or boreen trod by peasants' shoeless feet.
  It matter not.

I loved them all - the vale, the hill,
  The moaning sea, the flagger-lilied rill:
The yellow furze, the lake shore lone and still,
  The wild bird's song.

But more than hill or valley, bird or moor,
  More than the green fields of my native Suir;
I loved those hapless ones, the Irish poor,
  All my life long.

Little I did for them in outward deed,
  And yet be unto them of praise the need;
For the stiff flight I waged 'gainst lust and greed,
  I learnt it there.

So give me an Irish grave,
  mid Irish air, with Irish grass above it anywhere;
And let some passing peasant give prayer
  For my soul there.
William F. Butler (1838 - 1910)
the little ivied ruin
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Tom Fanning, Curate, Bansha Kilmoyler Anne Moloney Tipperary Heritage Unit Dan Dwyer, Parish Priest, Bansha and Kilmoyler