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Youghal is a historic port town located on the south coast of Ireland, on the Waterford / Cork border, and just inside a river estuary. There is an anchorage off the town quay basin that dries plus an alternate anchorage on the opposite side of the river.

Youghal is a historic port town located on the south coast of Ireland, on the Waterford / Cork border, and just inside a river estuary. There is an anchorage off the town quay basin that dries plus an alternate anchorage on the opposite side of the river.

Complete protection from all conditions may be found in the estuary. With strong southerly conditions a roll tends to develop in the anchorage off the town quay but at such times shelter may be easily obtained by moving to the opposite side of the river. Although there are many obstructions in Youghal Bay, including a bar outside the entrance, two well-marked channels lead across it providing straightforward access night or day.
Please note

southerly winds raise a heavy sea in Youghal Bay. Neither channel should be approached in south-easterly or southerly conditions in anything above force five. The entrance is subject to strong tidal currents and it is best to arrive here on the flood and depart on the ebb.

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Keyfacts for Youghal
HM  +353 87 2511143     Moorings  +353 868 050726      Ch.12

Aerial overview of Youghal

A taste of Youghal’s history

About Youghal

Youghal derives its name from the Irish Eochaill meaning "yew woods", which were once plentiful in the area. Set into the estuary of the River Blackwater and standing on the downward slopes of the hills on the west side of the harbour, this is a town of considerable antiquity of which a sizable majority is still well preserved today.

Evidence of early human occupation dates back to the Neolithic period as can be discerned by the findings at nearby Newport. Many of the buildings of the town date back to the 5th century. The Church of Coran thought to have been founded by St Declan around 450 in the town's western suburbs, and St Mary's Collegiate Church date back to then. The church was rebuilt in Irish Romanesque style circa 750, and a great Norman nave was erected in circa 1220. It is one of the few remaining medieval churches in Ireland to have remained in continuous use as a place of worship.

From the end of the 8th-century Ireland’s coastline was subject to Viking raids and Youghal was no exception. During the 9th-century, it is thought that a Viking settlement was established here. They used it as a base to execute raids on the monastic sites along the south coast of Ireland. This settlement is likely to have been small and may not have been a permanent foundation. It would have been well fortified and probably contained a church. It was however far from insurmountable and in 864 it is known to have been attacked and destroyed by the powerful Deisi clan. Today a stone in St Mary's Collegiate Church still bears a historic etched outline of a longboat that dates back to the period.

In 1173 a sea battle took place at the mouth of the River Blackwater. A fleet of Irish and Vikings clashed with Normans returning to their Waterford base with stolen plunder from Lismore. The Irish and Vikings were defeated and the Norman period began in Youghal. In 1177 King Henry II gave the Youghal area to Robert Fitzstephen, who in 1215 passed it on to his half-brother Maurice Fitzgerald ancestor of the Earls of Desmond. The property was conveyed to the Earls of Ormond in the 14th Century and passed back to the Earls of Desmond in 1420. The town was granted a charter of incorporation around 1209 and soon attracted settlers from Britain. By 1350 Youghal was a fine walled town and one of the main medieval ports in Ireland that traded with ports all over Europe.

By then the town walls, with at least 12 towers, surrounded the important settlement. The walls date from at least the 13th century; as early as 1275 King Edward I granted a charter to raise taxes for their repair and extension. In 1462 Youghal has created one of the Irish 'cinque ports' granting the town special military and trading privileges. Various other privileges were given to Youghal during the medieval period, confirming it as one of the principal ports in Ireland, and it was a port capable of provisioning vessels of all types. A beacon tower was constructed in the late 12th century to the south of the town and the light was tended by the nearby Franciscan convent of St. Anne.

The town was badly damaged on November 13th, 1579 during the Second Desmond Rebellion, when it was sacked by the forces of Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond. Desmond had the town's garrison massacred and English officials hanged, and his soldiers then looted the town. It was Sir Walter Raleigh that came to suppress this rebellion and in return for his success Queen Elizabeth I granted him large tracts of land in the Youghal area. He received 40,000 acres which included the important towns of Youghal and Lismore making him one of the principal landowners of Munster. Youghal was the home of Sir Walter Raleigh for short periods during the seventeen years in which he held land in Ireland.

Amongst his acquaintances in the area was the poet Edmund Spenser who, like Raleigh, had been granted land in Munster. They both had limited success in inducing English tenants to settle on their Irish estates. Sir Walter Raleigh is however credited with introducing the potato to Ireland. As noted by Nicholas Hilliard, circa 1585 ’’Sir Walter Raleigh was Mayor of Youghal in 1588 and 1599 and lived at Myrtle Grove, the Warden's Residence of the Collegiate Church. The first 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.’’ Another incident recalls how Raleigh was smoking, in the garden of Myrtle Grove, when his servant, never having seen tobacco before, threw water over him fearing that he had been set alight.

This is only a taste of the town’s history that has been designated an Irish Heritage Port by the Irish Tourist Board. This is very fitting as the downtown area of Youghal is a treasure trove of historic buildings and monuments all set within ancient town walls that are among the best preserved in Ireland.
The walls are standing firm and the first record of these are in the charter of 1275, granted by 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 urban tower house. There are also 17th-century almshouses, constructed by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. The Collegiate Church of Ireland, St. Mary's Collegiate 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 the country in 1650, having over-wintered in the town following his campaign in Ireland.

Built over a short space and on the edge of a steep riverbank, the town has a distinctive long and narrow layout that is a pleasure to experience on foot. The first stop should be to the tourist office so that a plan can be made to take full advantage of this historic town as there are a host of things to see. Youghal is also adjoined by a number of fine safe beaches with the 5km long front beach holding two Blue Flags for water quality.

Other options in this area

Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Knockadoon Harbour - 2.5 miles SSW
Ballycotton - 5.9 miles SW
White Bay - 10.9 miles WSW
Aghada - 9.3 miles WSW
Northeast of Great Island - 8.7 miles WSW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Ardmore Bay - 2.9 miles E
Helvick - 7.8 miles ENE
Dungarvan Town Quay - 7.3 miles NE
Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 7.9 miles NE
Stradbally Cove - 10.7 miles NE

Navigational pictures

These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Youghal.

Aerial overview of Youghal

A taste of Youghal’s history

A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.

Add your review or comment:

Rodolphe Thimonier wrote this review on Jun 19th 2016:

Nice anchorage almost in city center. Yet the anchorage North of Ferry Point is shallow and the best spots are already occupied by local boats. So, from a draft of 2m, you shall have to anchor almost in the middle of the river, where the tidal currents are strong (several knots on a spring tide) and the boat is exposed to southerly winds/swell. However, the holding is good and the place enjoyable.

Average Rating: ***

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