Youghal ; Irish language Eochaill is a seaport in County Cork, Republic of Ireland. Youghal is located on the estuary of the River Blackwater, Ireland|River Blackwater, and in the past was militarily and economically important. Being built on the edge of a steep riverbank, the town has a distinctive long and narrow layout. The name of the town derives from the Taxaceae|yew woods (Eochaill) which were once plentiful in the area. As of the 2002 census, the population was 6,597, but the population of its catchment area is about 10,000.
History and architecture
Youghal received its charter of incorporation in 1209, but the history of settlement on the site is much longer, with a Norsemen|Norse settlement being present in the 9th century, the Church of Coran in the town's western suburbs dating from the 5th century, and evidence of Neolithic habitation at nearby Newport.
Notable buildings in the town include St Mary's Collegiate Church, thought to have been founded by St Declan around 450. The church was rebuilt in Irish Romanesque style c. 750, and a great Norman architecture|Norman nave was erected in c. 1220. It is one of the few remaining medieval churches in Ireland to have remained in continuous use as a place of worship. The Vikings used Youghal as a base for their raids on monastic sites along the south coast of Ireland, and a stone in St Mary's Collegiate Church still bears the etched outline of a longboat. Since the 16th Century it has been the place of worship of the Church of Ireland congregation of Youghal and its surrounding areas. The town was badly damaged on November 13 1579, during the Second Desmond Rebellion, which it was sacked by the forces of Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond. Desmond had the town's garrison massacred, the English officials hanged and his soldiers looted the townspeople.
The town's walls date to at least the 13th century and are among the best preserved in Ireland. The first record of the walls is a charter of 1275, granted by Edward I of England|King Edward I, for their repair and extension. In 1777, the town's Clock Gate was built on the site of Trinity Castle, part of the town's fortifications. The Clock Gate served the town as gaol and public gallows until 1837; prisoners were executed by being hanged from the windows. Tynte's Castle is a late 15th century|15th-century urban tower house. There are also 17th century|17th-century almshouses, constructed by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. The Protestant church in the town still contains many monuments, including the tomb of Richard Boyle himself. The Mall House and its promenade were built in 1779, and are now used as Youghal's Town Hall. The town's Water Gate was built in the 13th century to provide access through the town walls to the docks. Also known as Cromwell's Arch, it was from here that Oliver Cromwell left Ireland in 1650, having overwintered in the town after his Cromwellian conquest of Ireland|campaign in Ireland.
An interesting aside in Youghal's history is that it was the first town in Ireland or Britain to have a Jewish Mayor when a Mr. William Annyas was elected to that position in 1555.
Sir Walter Raleigh was Mayor of Youghal in 1588 and 1599 and lived in Myrtle Grove, the Warden's Residence of the Collegiate Church. The first potato|potatoes in Europe were planted in the gardens of Myrtle Grove in 1585. Myrtle Grove's South Gable is where Edmund Spencer is reputed to have written part of his poem The Faerie Queen. The house is not open to the public, except during the summer months when tours are organised for the public.
Sir Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, 1st Viscount Dungarvan, 1st Baron Boyle of Youghal, Lord High Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland (although simply known as The Great Earl of Cork), had a substantial residence at Youghal, known today as "The College", close to St. Mary's Collegiate Church. Boyle occupied the office of Sheriff from 1625 to 1626.
The Earl of Desmond|Countess of Desmond (1464 - 1604), who lived in nearby Finisk Castle is known for falling to her death at the age of 140 while picking cherries up a tree.
Communist journalist Claud Cockburn and his wife Patricia, artist, conchologist and traveller, lived in the town for many years. He described it, memorably, as "standing at a slight angle to the universe". Novelist William Trevor spent some of his early years in Youghal, and featured the town in his short story "Memories of Youghal".
In 1954, John Huston filmed part of Moby Dick there, with the town standing in for New Bedford, Massachusetts|New Bedford. A licensed premises in the town still bears the name of the movie.
Eddie O'Sullivan was appointed Ireland rugby coach in December 2001, replacing Warren Gatland. He had earlier coached Connacht, and was involved in the US Eagles coaching set up with George Hook in the early 1990s.
Youghal has a number of the finest and safest beaches in Ireland, with two Blue Flags for water quality. In the 1950s and 1960s Youghal was a popular seaside resort, with thousands taking the train to the beach. Many tourists to the town are attracted by its historic buildings and connections with the British Monarchy, most notably Queen Elizabeth I and Mary of Teck|Queen Mary, Empress of India. The town is steeped in history and was once one of the busiest ports in the country, even more important than Cork and Dublin at one time. Large amounts of titled peers live in the area with many castles and country houses surrounding the town. With the closing of the railway line in the 1970s (see History of rail transport in Ireland|Irish railway history), the town went into a period of decline, reinforced by the difficulties encountered by the town's textile industry. Since the 1990s, aided by favourable property tax concessions, there has been considerable reinvestment and construction to restore Youghal's facilties and popularity. Today Youghal and its surrounding area of East Cork and West Waterford is marketed under the name The Irish Riviera. Cork International Airport is the nearest airport in the region and is located about 40 minutes drive away from Youghal.