The medieval town of Buttevant dates to at least the early 12th century, although it likely predates even that. There is some dispute over the origin of the town’s name. Some sources claim that it derives from the family motto of the Earls of Barrymore – “Boutez en avant” – while others suggest that it comes from the French term for castle fortress (an example of which can be found in Buttevant), “Boutevante”. Buttevant became a walled town in 1317, following the awarding of a grant from the exchequer.

The town has a storied military history, with involvement in the War of the Roses, the 1641 Rebellion and the Irish Confederate Wars of 1643.

The famous Cahirmee Horse Fair is held in the town annually.