13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church, hardly a stone’s throw from the main street, was one of the highlights of a recent short stay in Youghal. It is one of the gems of the country and should be much better known.
It is one of the few parish churches of the period still in use in Ireland. The earliest entry in the vestry book of Youghal is a statement of parish accounts for the year 1201. The list of clergy can be traced back to this date.
Names associated with the church over the centuries included the Earls of Desmond (the 7th enhanced it, the 15th damaged it), Sir Walter Raleigh, Oliver Cromwell, George Berkley and Richard Boyle.
In recent years the Collegiate Church has been declared a National Monument of Ireland. It is almost unknown for a church building that is in regular use to receive this status from the government.
Cork took some time out the weekend before last to blow its own trumpet at the City Hall and, in fairness, Youghal were there in force. And rightly so. The seaside town and its ancient buildings should be promoted as a national treasure, not merely a local one.
List of interesting Youghal sights: Watergate, Clock gate, Main Street shopfronts, St John’s Priory, The Red House, Tyntes Castle, The Alms House, Shalom House, Myrtle Grove, and St Mary’s Collegiate Church and the Town Walls.
Check out my review of St Mary's Collegiate Church - I am cork - on Qype