Youghal Town Walls are a remarkable feature of the town, with over 700 meters of the wall’s exterior accessible to the public. And at the heart of this historic tapestry lie the Youghal Town Walls, a timeless guardian that has silently witnessed the town’s transformation through the ages.
A Story of Protection and Strength
The Youghal Town Walls, dating back to the 13th century, stand as a tangible reminder of the town’s strategic importance and its struggles for survival.
The first confirmed documentary evidence for the town wall of Youghal appears in a murage grant dated from 1275, which allowed the tenants of Thomas de Clare various customs to enable them to enclose their vill of Youghal and repair its walls for seven years. The reference to “repair” of the town wall signifies that the town’s defences pre-date the murage grant. Archaeological evidence has proven that in the thirteenth century, the stone wall was built first, and that the ditch, and in some cases the towers, were added shortly after. From the towers, the Town Guard could access the wall walk, which was used for patrol and attack. The wall’s towers, if not primary, mark the locations where towers once stood.
The earliest known murage charter for Youghal, granted in 1275, suggests the existence of fortifications even before this time. The town’s strategic location on the Irish coast, coupled with its role as a prosperous trading port, made it a prime target for invaders.
The construction of the walls, undertaken in three phases, reflected the town’s growing significance and its determination to safeguard its inhabitants and its wealth. The first phase enclosed the main town, followed by the waterfront, and finally, in 1462, the base town. The formidable perimeter of the walls, measuring approximately 1,750 meters, was further bolstered by an external fosse, a battlemented parapet, and an internal wall-walk.
A Stronghold of Strength
Throughout its history, the Youghal Town Walls have borne witness to numerous conflicts and sieges, serving as a bastion of fortitude against invaders. In 1579, the walls withstood a devastating siege by the Earl of Desmond, a testament to their strength and resilience.
The walls’ significance extended beyond their defensive role. They served as a physical and symbolic demarcation of the town, defining its boundaries and fostering a sense of community and identity among its residents. The five gates that pierced the walls – Clock Gate, North Gate, South Gate, Quay Gate, and Water Gate – regulated access to the town, ensuring its security and controlling the flow of goods and people.
A Legacy of Preservation
Today, the Youghal Town Walls stand as a cherished heritage asset, offering a glimpse into the town’s medieval past and its indomitable spirit. Thanks to ongoing conservation efforts, the walls have been sensitively restored and are now freely accessible to the public, providing a unique opportunity to walk through history.
A Journey Through Time
A walk along the Youghal Town Walls is a captivating journey through time. From the imposing Youghal Clock Gate Tower, to the Sallyport, a secret passageway that once allowed for discreet entry and exit, the walls reveal a tapestry of stories and architectural details.
Along the Raheen Road stretch of the walls, visitors can admire the Half-Moon Tower, the only original tower that has survived to its full height, and the Montmorenci Tower, a vestige of the town’s fortifications. The ‘Gaol Steps’ also known as ‘Jail Steps’, leads down to the Banshee Tower, evoke memories of the town’s legal past, while the Water Gate, also known as ‘Cromwell’s Arch’, provides a poignant reminder of the town’s role in Irish history.
A Symbol of Youghal’s Identity
The Youghal Town Walls stand as a proud symbol of the town’s identity, a testament to its resilience, ingenuity, and the enduring spirit of its people. Their presence weaves through the town’s fabric, connecting the past, present, and future, ensuring that the stories they hold will continue to be cherished for generations to come.
The Youghal Town Walls were constructed in three phases. The first phase occurred in the first half of the 13th century, with additional construction taking place in the 17th and 19th centuries.
There were five medieval gates that provided access to the town: North Gate, South Gate, Iron Gate, Quay Gate, and Water Gate. The Iron Gate was also known as Trinity Castle and fell into disrepair, being removed in 1772. It was replaced in 1777 by the Clock Tower, now known as Clock Gate. The Water Gate, located on Quay Lane, was reconstructed in the 19th century. The North and South Gates were also removed in the late 18th century.
The total perimeter of the Youghal Town Walls is approximately 1,750 meters with over 700 meters of the wall’s exterior accessible to the public.
The Youghal Town Walls include several notable features, such as:
- Towers: There were originally 13 towers along the walls, including the Montmorenci Tower and the Half Moon Tower, which still stand today.
- Sallyport: A sallyport is a secret passageway that allowed for discreet entry and exit from the town.
- Fosse: An external fosse provided an extra line of defense for the town.
- Battlements: The walls were battlemented, providing a platform for defenders to engage in combat.
- Wall-walk: An internal wall-walk allowed defenders to move freely along the walls.
The best way to experience the Youghal Town Walls is to take a walk along them. The walls are freely accessible to the public, and there are several different routes that you can take.
Here is a suggested walking route:
- Begin your walk at St. Mary’s Collegiate Church.
- Walk west along the church and follow the pathway at the west end of the graveyard to Drew’s Tower.
- Continue walking south along the walls to the Sallyport.
- Take the Sallyport and walk south along the walls to the Half-Moon Tower.
- Continue walking south past Montmorenci Tower and the Banshee Tower.
- Descend the ‘Jail Steps’ and walk past the Youghal Clock Gate Tower to the Water Gate.
Yes there is a guided tour of the Youghal Town Walls available. This tour is a great way to learn more about the history of the walls and to see some of the hidden features that you might not find on your own. A guided tour by Town Crier, Clifford Winser is available, inquire locally.
The external Youghal Town Walls are always accessable however in order to take a wall walk you need to enter via St. Mary’s Collegiate Church.
- Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday 12:30pm to 5 p.m.
Find out more here: St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, Youghal
No, there is no cost to walk along the Youghal Town Walls.
There are several cafes, restaurants, and shops located near the Youghal Town Walls.
There are public car parks located near the Youghal Town Walls. There is a free carpark on the Raheen Road side of the walls. There is also street parking available nearby.