Local Youghal man John McGrath who lived in the Clockgate Tower from 1939 to 1959 speaks about his memories of those day and other stories. The tower built in 1777 was part of the towns fortifications. It served the town as a gaol and a public gallows until 1837. It then became a family home. Video by Dan Linehan
A Walk Within The Walls by Shane Broderick I live in a small town in the southeast of Ireland, in County Cork. That town is called Youghal, or Eochaill in the old Irish tongue, which means ‘yew forest’ (so called for the yew trees that used to surround the town).
Youghal was once one of the busiest ports in Ireland and England, second only to Bristol, and it was completely surrounded by fortified town walls and it’s battlements. There is a large section of these walls still standing.
This town has been witness to some interesting (and bloody) events and to some famous (or infamous, as the case may be) characters. If the stones could talk they would have many a tale to tell.
Youghal has miles of blue flag beaches (if the Irish weather provides some sunshine) and beautiful vistas that provide a lovely town to relax in, it is close to the cities of Cork and Waterford if you’re in the mood for a shopping trip.
I’m going to share some of these places and people with you plus a short tale of the most interesting points in the town’s history.
The earliest evidence of settlement in Youghal is from Mesolithic times, some 8,000 years ago. Artifacts that have been found include a stone backed blade and a mudstone axe. Some arrowheads were also found in what is now the outskirts of the town.
The Celtic culture arrived around 2,500 years ago and many fine fortified enclosures, called raths, survive in the countryside surrounding Youghal. One of the earliest settlements would most likely have been a rath and this is remembered in the name of a very old road on the outskirts of the town walls called Raheen Road.
The earliest sign of Christianity in Youghal is from the 5th century and was the site of the church of Coran. The holy well of St. Coran is still on the site.
In the 9th century the town played host to the Vikings. They established a settlement here and used the town to invade the wealthy monasteries including nearby Dungarvan and Malona Abbey. It is recorded that, in 864, a battle ensued between the neighbouring Deise clan and the Deise destroyed the Norse fort. No evidence has been found to tell the location of the fort, but a stone in the transept of St. Mary’s Church still bears the faint carving of a Viking longship. Youghal received its first charter from King John in the 13th century and gained great power and influence in Europe as an important port. It suffered greatly during the plague and is thought to have lost half its population.
During the Desmond Rebellion the town was sacked and the garrison was burned. Due to poor maintenance, the town soon fell to the rebels and the fortifications were broken. A few weeks later the English retook the town led by the Earl of Ormond, and they reoccupied the town. The lord mayor was then hanged from the door of his residence as punishment for failing to maintain the town’s defences. of the famous characters (and the namesake of a hotel) was Sir Walter Raleigh. He came to Ireland as part of an army sent here to put down the Desmond Rebellion. He was given 42,000 acres of land in Munster and his house, Myrtle Grove, was built in the 16th century. It was originally the residence of the college warden. Its exterior was altered in the 16th, 18th and 19th century’s but still keeps some of its original character. Some internal features possibly date back to the 1580’s.
In 1585, Raleigh planted what are thought to be the first potatoes in Ireland and also the first tobacco. There’s a funny story regarding the tobacco. Sir Walter lit up his pipe, much to the horror of one of his servants who, for the first time seeing someone smoking, thought his master was on fire and proceed to throw a bucket of water over Raleigh. He was the mayor of Youghal from 1588 to 1589 (which was probably for the best, seeing how precarious the job title seems to have been to some). He sold all his possessions and land to Richard Boyle in 1602, which brings us to our next person of interest.
Richard Boyle arrived in Ireland in 1588 almost penniless and with a stroke of luck married a wealthy heiress in 1595. The yew trees of Youghal were used to feed his ironworks and he also exported them abroad.
A cannon that is thought to have been made by Boyle’s ironworks is still in the gardens of the college that was later established from his residence.
There are still some remnants of his influence in town including his Alms houses and his monument in St. Mary’s Church. The Alms houses he built were for six retired soldiers and they were given the princely sum of £5 per annum. This was later extended to widows. They provide a similar service today and are still relatively original. He also renovated the south transept of St Mary’s Church (later called Boyles Chapel) after it had been damaged during the Desmond Rebellion.
Boyle built a magnificent memorial to himself depicting him, his two wives and some of his 15 children. Some of these are depicted lying down holding skulls (denoting that they died in infancy). One of his children was later known for Boyle’s Law in chemistry.
This beautiful monument is made from seven different types of marble and still retains a lot of its original paintwork. I’ve spent hours gazing at it picking out all the little details.
I will now give you some of the history of some of the buildings from the other photos:
ST. MARY’S COLLEGIATE CHURCH
The church is thought to have been a monastic settlement of St. Declan of Ardmore (circa 450).
It was rebuilt in the Irish Romanesque style around the year 750 and the great nave was erected in 1220. The roof timbers have been carbon dated to around 1170. In the early 13th century there was a rebuilding under the master masons of 4 local guilds. Their marks can be seen on the gothic arches. It was on the 27th December when it was made into a collegiate church with the foundation of Our Lady’s
College of Youghal, by the Earl of Desmond, Thomas Fitzgerald. It is a building of great historical importance for Ireland and is a national monument. The stained glass windows in the photo show the coat of arms of important families in the town at the time
CLOCK GATE As I mentioned Youghal was one of the most significant maritime centres of medieval Ireland, commanding important trading routes to northern and western Europe. Built into the town walls were heavily guarded gates. When the town expanded south, a new ‘base’ or outer town (for the lower classes), also walled, was built alongside the inner town. A massive battlemented south gate was built (depicted in the Pacata Hibernian in 1633). It was comprised of a pair of circular towers connected by a portcullis and provided access between both districts and also doubled as a prison. It was renamed Trinity Gate.
The gate was originally equipped with a sundial, but on the 28th April 1620 the corporation ordered that a clock be placed there. In 1622 Balthazar Portingale was appointed as clock keeper and given free lodgings in exchange for ringing the bell. In spite of repairs it began to deteriorate and on the 20th October 1776 it was decided to demolish and replace it with a gaol and gaoler’s house with a proper building. The current building you see now was built in 1777 and it was enlarged some years later because of the amount of people arrested as rebels. It was also used as a public gallows and many people were hanged from the windows including some members of the united Irishmen. The building became a symbol of terror and tyranny, a reputation it kept until 1837. It has not been in public use since the 1970’s when it was a museum. It is currently under renovation to be opened once again to the public.
WATER GATE This used to be the only access from the quay and was one of the busiest places in town. It is known locally as Cromwells Arch as it was from here that he left Ireland in 1650s after he had overwintered in the town. This was after his campaign (or more accurately slaughter) in Ireland. It was originally built in the 13th century and was restored in the 18th century, and lies adjacent to the site of The Exchange and a stonesthrow away from the Clock Gate.
THE EXCHANGE The first was built in 1672 and was situated just outside the town walls fronting onto the medieval quay. It was once a theatre where groups from all over would come to perform here. The immediate area including the dock was used
for the filming of the movie Moby Dick. The pub that was used as the filmmaker’s HQ was renamed Moby Dick’s. The exchange building was also used as a courthouse.
THE LIGHTHOUSE The picturesque (as I’m sure you will agree) lighthouse is situated at the entrance to the harbour. The Geraldine owners of the town originally built a tower on the sight and generously funded the nuns of the Chapel of St. Anne under the condition that they maintain the light in the tower. It was demolished in 1840 to make way for the current lighthouse to be built, due to the large number of vessels using the harbour, which was over 500 circa 1850.Construction began in 1852 and it was made from granite.
THE RED HOUSE Built in the 18th century for the Uniacke family, it is thought to be the only example of the Dutch or Queen Anne style townhouse in use as a private house in Ireland.
NORTH ABBEY RUINS The Dominican Priory was founded in 1268 by Thomas Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, whose grandfather had founded the abbey in South Abbey. It was initially dedicated to the Holy Cross but was changed to Our Lady of Graces.
This was brought about by the rediscovery of a small ivory statue of the madonna and child. This made the priory the centre of Marian worship for several centuries till it was dissolved in the 16th century. That statue can now be found in Cork City and is said to have caused some miraculous healing. If I remember correctly it was originally washed up in the centre of a solid oak log, which was very easy to lift and was said to have given a blind man his sight back. Some ruins of the abbey still remain and it is situated in the main cemetery of the town.
As you can see it is a town steeped in history and I hope you have enjoyed the trip through time and the history of my town. I love walking past these places everyday and I always try to imagine the things that have happened there. I also loved getting the opportunity to share my photos with everyone. I have also included an old map of the town so you can see the setup of the town walls way back when.
A Walk Within The Walls -An Historic Youghal Guide
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Rise of the Gangster Film. A special one day event at the Molly Keane Writers retreat in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, presented by Kevin Brownlow, film historian and honorary Academy Award winner.
Actor, writer and chef Peter Gowen, 55, is originally from Youghal. He lives in London with his wife, Anna and 14 year-old son, Jack.
“There’s no time to do anything in the morning. I’m up at 5.30am, I have 15 minutes to shower and then I’m out the door. Breakfast doesn’t happen. Basically I’ve two lives, because when I’m not acting, I’m a chef in London. It’s in corporate fine dining, cooking for bankers, hedge fund managers and VIP clients. I also work as an events chef, setting up field kitchens and delivering canapés or three-course meals.
Acting is a tough career. Mick Lally, who was a friend of mine, once said to me: ‘the tide comes in and goes back out and when it does, you’re never quite sure when it’ll come back again’. That’s an actor’s life. Sometimes there’s a surge and other times, there’s nothing. You abandon your life to an insecure financial future. So having the cheffing job is almost therapeutic, if I get an acting job I’m happy and if not, well, that’s okay too.
I was always the clown in the family. There were nine of us and in a large family everyone has a niche. Mine was acting the eejit. I also wasn’t very good at school and coped by being the class clown. I failed disastrously in my Leaving Cert. It wasn’t the most glittering academic record, but going to a ‘traditional’ Christian Brothers school meant I couldn’t engage with what was going on. I was anxious all the time.
My parents were upset by my exam results as my sisters before me were in Trinity and UCC and they expected me to sail into something like architecture. Instead, I ended up crashing. I was so embarrassed that I went to London, but I soon realised independence didn’t amount to much. It was 1975, and I worked on a building site- exhausted by the work and the cold- and living in a squat, with heroin addicts and weirdoes. For a young man, it was huge learning curve and decided to go back to school at the Cork Commercial College, which sounds quite grand but it actual was a semi-detached house in Bishopstown. I got a decent Leaving Cert, and ended up at Trinity after all.
As I had just 10 hours of lectures a week, I did some work for the Players Theatre. My first acting role was in Kennedy’s Children, and I played the barman. I didn’t say anything but I got mentioned in the reviews, much to the annoyance of the other cast members. I was standing there, fecking about and polishing glasses while they had to learn great big monologues. My first spoken performance was in a Shakespearean play- a small role- and I got an exit round of applause… whatever I was doing, the audience thought it was great craic! That was an electrifying moment for me. I thought, ‘I want to get into this business’ so I continued my studies in a semi-interested kind of way, spending more time in the theatre, and playing small commercial parts.
This business is a curious one. Neil Jordan saw me in A Whistle in the Dark at the Abbey Theatre 10 years previous to The Butcher Boy. A decade later, when I was living in York- a time before mobile phones- he rang looking for me. My wife- fiancé at the time- knew I had gone to buy wedding rings, so she took a chance and phoned the store. They asked was I Peter Gowen, and told me to get on a train to London to meet Neil Jordan. I ran to York Station, travelled to London, got picked up by a car, and had a 10-minute chat with Jordan. The following day he phoned and offered me the part.
On the day we got married, I had to fly off that evening to Ireland. We had to push the wedding forward and I left the reception at 7pm. Then I spent the entire day standing behind a coffin! That’s life as an actor… random. Ten years ago, when the tide went out, as Mick Lally said, I was lucky enough to work at Fulham Football Club, in the fine dining section, and went on to work for an agency that places me in different places. There’s a lot of repetitive work so it frees up my brain. When I actually write, it’s with a pen and paper. Even though I can’t read my own writing, I do it in long hand, and then transfer it to the computer.
I’ve been writing for years but it’s difficult to get work on stage. I’m delighted The Chronicles of Oggle is now the debut production for The Everyman County Touring Initiative. I started writing the play in 2005, and it’s the 25th draft… and still being tweaked. It’s based on my own experiences and asks questions like how Irish society functioned within the control of the Church. While the themes are serious, it still has the Irish sense of humour.
Cork is my writing baptism and now I can say, without embarrassment, that I’m a writer. Early in my acting career, I wrote plays but they withered out. Around the time my father got sick, I started writing again. When your parents become ill, something alters in you. I got feverish when writing and I didn’t care if it was good or not. That was the catalyst.
Now I’m a chef, actor and a writer, and my days vary. If I’m cheffing, I don’t eat at all and have five coffees instead. When I get the shakes, I stop! In the places I work, there’s no such thing as lunch. Fine dining is a tough kitchen and you come in, crack on and don’t stop.
When I’m not cheffing, I love cooking at home. I’m trying to get my son into it, he recently made his first spaghetti bolognese after some harassment. It’s important for young people to learn how to cook. Your immune system only works properly if the body is getting the right nutrition. When my daughter went to college, I made her a three-week cookery book so at the end of it, she’d have 21 dishes. However, when she finished, she wanted another recipe! I had to tell her that the whole idea of the book was to go back to the start.
We eat a lot of Greek food at home, which is quite simple. There’s something in the Greek psyche- similar to Ireland- that’s sort of peasant like. That’s not meant in a derogatory way, but rather every Greek is a farmer at heart, embracing food grown in the garden. The combination of lemon juice, fresh herbs and olive oil is extremely healthy.
Usually I’m starving when I get home, but I don’t cook. I crash because I’m back up again at 5.30am. I pick throughout the day, and anyway, I love being in bed by 10pm. If you don’t get enough sleep in this game, you’ll be catatonic by the weekend. In comparison, on nights I’m on stage, it’s 2am by the time I get to sleep, after dinner and a glass of wine.
I’m quite good about clearing my mind before going to bed. When I was younger, I was terrible, with everything buzzing around my head. I’ve calmed down a bit.
To be honest, the biggest challenge in my life is dealing with the anxiety I experienced as a schoolboy. My secondary school days haunt me. When I wake up the feeling something terrible is going to happen is always there. I have to fight it, telling myself ‘I’m okay’. That’s my biggest obstacle. When my father and sister died, my son was in hospital with an asthma attack that almost killed him, and my wife had meningitis, I could deal with it all. Psychological dread is different. At the same time, it also drives me. It’s why I’m passionate about everything I do.
One of my secrets to happiness is having a good long-term relationship with a partner who supports you, and you also support. Someone said the secret to a good relationship is to give more than you get back, and that’s how I approach life, being as generous as I can.
Being active is a great thing, and helps prevent the doubts from settling. I love getting out on the water, and we’re lucky to live by the river in London. As soon as it gets nice, I’m on the boat with friends and while we don’t do a pub crawl- as that involves getting langered- we do stop at a few pubs along the bank.
It’s nice to get back to Youghal, as our family home is on a great fishing spot. And of course, I also get to see my mother. She’s an amazing woman; she’s recovering from a stroke at the age of 88, and is still going great guns. In terms of other heroes, Richard Corrigan is amazing and an inspiration to any Irish person, with his determination, passion and vision. Gabriel Byrne has those same qualities.
I’d hope people see me as a bit of craic. I’m sure not everyone would think that, as I’ve a bit of temper. I can’t stand laziness or dishonesty, and if I come across those things at work, you get two barrels at the same time.
In 10 years, I hope I’m still working as a chef, shouting at people who’re lazy or lacking the correct amount of passion. And hopefully I’ll still be an actor and a writer. I want to develop in all fields and I look forward to the challenge.”
The Chronicles of Oggle is at The Mall Arts Centre, Youghal on Thursday, April 18th; The Everyman from Monday, April 22nd to Thursday, April 25th; Village Arts Centre, Kilworth on Friday, April 26th and The Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville on Saturday, April 27th.
A new play by Peter Gowen
The debut production of The Everyman County Touring Initiative
Meet Pakie. An orphan, a storyteller, an adventurer, a survivor. He may not be the sharpest sandwich in the tool box, but Pakie knows a thing or two about the history of his native town – from the vicious Vikings, to the less-than Christian Brothers. Pakie’s a laugh a minute… but Pakie’s got secrets. Secrets the God fearing people of Oggle, may not be ready to hear.
Written and performed by renowned local actor Peter Gowen (Love/Hate, The Butcher Boy/Hairy Ape), and directed by Donal Gallagher, the Chronicles of Oggle is a hilarious and heartbreaking story of small towns and even smaller minds.
Presented by The Everyman in association with Asylum Productions
“…and poor Walter Rally: got his head chopped off.
Okay, he did bring the lung cancer and the famine to Ireland,
but he didn’t know that at the time, and he didn’t mean to.
He was only trying to impress the queer wan over in London…”
THE ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE 2013 in Youghal was a very colourful affair with lots of clubs, local organisations and businesses in the town and surrounding area participating in the the annual event. This year’s parade was organised by the Youghal4All group in association with the Youghal Pipe Band. Thanks to Kieran McCarthy and Michael O’Connell who broadcast the event live on the internet. This was the 6th year that Youghalonline broadcast the parade live to the wider community and to those far away from home. There were prizes for best floats, banners and marching groups. Click on the HD video below to see the whole parade as it passed through North Main Street with the famous Clock Gate Tower in the background, appropriately covered in Green netting while it is being to refurbished. We hope everyone had a wonderful day, especially to our overseas viewers we hope that the video reminds you of home. HAPPY ST. PATRICKS’ DAY!
The parade video is 21 mins in length. If you would like to watch it in HD click on the cog wheel which appears on the timeline ( after you press the play button) to adjust the settings.
The Ailbrin Society is pleased to present a talk on “St. Finbarr’s – Cork’s Gothic Cathedral”. This will be held on Wednesday, 20th March, at 8.30 pm in the Walter Raleigh Hotel, Youghal.
The speaker is John Stack from Youghal. John is the acclaimed author of the trilogy “Masters of the Sea”. His fourth book is on the Spanish Armada. John has been a tour guide in St. Finbarr’s and will have interesting insights to share with us into the history of this Cork landmark. We look forward to seeing you there.
Admission: members free; non-members E5.
Láinseáil Seachtain na Gaeilge 2013 – Marta 4th – 17th 2013
Launch of Irish Week 2013 – March 4th – 17th 2013
The launch of Seachtain na Gaeilge 2013 took place in Club Aras, Youghal, on Monday, 11th March 2013. Speaking at the launch, Liam Ó Laochdha, Cathaoirleach Chonradh na Gaeilge, Eochaill, said: “There is an amazing number of people who have gaeilge but are reluctant to speak it for many reasons and this is a chance, at this time, to encourage all those people to speak the Irish language more often”
Pupils and teachers from each of the schools in Youghal and the surrounding area attended the launch and enjoyed the music of local group Lar Na Cruinne from Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. Donacha Ó Cearúill, secretary of the local branch of Conradh na Gaeilge said the launch was a great success and great to see everyone making that extra effort in speaking Irish.
Seachtain na Gaeilge is a non-profit organisation, which promotes the use of Irish language and culture both at home and abroad within a two-week festival held in March every year, and this year takes place between the 4th – 17th March 2013. Conradh na Gaeilge established the organisation in 1902.
The festival has built up incredible momentum in recent years, becoming the largest celebration of our native language and culture held in Ireland every year and sweeping other countries up in the whirlwind along the way.
Croi Glan – Dance Production – Double Bill – An Outside Understanding & Gawky & Awkward
The Mall Arts Centre, Youghal
Date: Saturday 20th April. 8.00pm
Tickets: €15.00 Concessions: €10.00
Tickets from Yew Wood Venues 087 9593276 or at door on night.
About Croi Glan:
Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company, is a professional contemporary dance company based in Cork, which performs work that includes both disabled and non-disabled dancers. Founded in December 2006 by Rhona Coughlan and Tara Brandel, Croi Glan highlights the cutting edge artistic value of creating performance with diverse bodies by producing high calibre work which tours nationally and internationally. Croi Glan also provides an educational program that offers integrated dance to people with and without disabilities, through introductory workshops; ongoing classes; and vocational training in integrated dance.
An Outside Understanding
Delving into the personal, this duet reveals what defines us, what our dreams are and what is shared between us – a glimpse into our very souls. This work brings together one of Ireland’s leading choreographers, Liz Roche, and one of the country’s leading integrated dance companies to produce a critically acclaimed and searing performance. Mixing film with live dance for a technically challenging duet, it delves into the personal, revealing what defines us, what our dreams are and what is shared between us. Performed by Mary Nugent and Dawn Mulloy, the piece was nominated for Best Staging and Best Female Performance at the 2012 Dublin Fringe Festival.
Gawky & Awkward
‘School was easy. Maths was easy. Learning was too easy. So I chose the one thing that was hard.’
Tara Brandel’s new solo work Understand & Gawky & Awkward is a very personal piece, revealing the things we struggle with and a dancer’s creative journey through dyslexia/dyspraxia. The work is directed by Caroline Bowditch (previously Scottish Dance Theatre’s Dance Agent for Change) and incorporates an original score by disabled composer Charlotte White.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Youghal
Organised by Youghal4All. The parade will begin at 3 p.m.
Assembly beforehand on the Breton Road.
Entrants should contact email@example.com
Youghal4All will sponsor a new prize for “Best New Entrant” this year.
Please note that all floats to enter from the Breton Road.
Press Release Tue, 5 Mar 2013
The official launch of the Historic Towns Initiative took place in Custom House in Dublin on Thursday 21st of February 2013 by Minister Jimmy Deenihan.The three towns taking part in the initiative are Listowel, Westport and Youghal. Mayor of Youghal, Cllr Michelle Hennessy and Cllr Mary Linehan Foley represented Youghal town council at the event. Also in attendance were Deputy Sandra McLellan and archaeologist Catherine Desmond.
More on this story here: http://www.youghalonline.com/tag/towns/