Collegiate Church of St Mary Youghal

Collegiate Church of St Mary Youghal

Coordinates: 51°57′18″N 7°51′13″W / 51.95503°N 7.85358°W / 51.95503; -7.85358

Collegiate Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Youghal

St. Mary's Collegiate Church, Youghal

Denomination Church of Ireland
Churchmanship High Church
Dedication St. Mary
Parish Youghal
Diocese Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Province Dublin
Priest(s) Fr. Patrick Hewitt

St. Mary's Collegiate Church, Youghal, County Cork, Ireland is a Church of Ireland Church in Youghal in East County Cork. Formerly part of the Diocese of Cloyne, it is now in the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.[1]


Historical Overview


Early days

The church is likely to have been a monastic settlement of Saint Declan of Ardmore (ca. 450). It was rebuilt in Irish Romanesque style (ca. 750) and the Great Nave was erected in the year 1220. The roof timbers have been carbon dated by Queen's University Belfast to the year 1170. There was an early 13th century re-building and this was under the direction and hand of the Masters of four local guilds of operative masons, whose marks are still to be found on the pillars of the gothic arches.[citation needed]

The earliest entry in the vestry book of Youghal is a statement of parish accounts for 1201. Pope Nicholas IV, in the taxations of 1291, described Youghal as being the richest benefice in Cloyne. The list of clergy can be traced back to this date.[citation needed]

Formation of the Collegiate Church

On 27th December 1464 St. Mary's was made a Collegiate Church, with the foundation of Our Lady's College of Yoghill by Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond (proprietor of Youghal and Lord Deputy of Ireland), for the purpose of training seminarians. It was served by a Warden and Clerks consisting of eight Fellows and eight choristers.


Following the English Reformation, the church and its assets came into the control of the Established church. The majority Roman Catholic population was obliged to conduct their services elsewhere in private accommodations. Due to the Penal Laws, it was not possible to construct another church until 1796 when St. Mary’s parish church was built.[3] It remains the oldest Catholic Church in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cloyne still active as a parish church. The last Catholic warden was Thomas Allen (1533); Roger Skiddy was appointed by King Edward VI of England. He is described as "Warden of Youghal" in 1567.[4] Sixty years later all the endowments were acquired by the Earl of Cork, and in 1639 the rectory was united to the wardenship. A Catholic succession of wardens was maintained as late as 1709, when Father Richard Harnet held the position, which was then merely titular.

In 1597, the college house was plundered and laid in ruins by the insurgent forces of Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, who, among other acts of desecration, unroofed the beautiful High Chancel.

Sir Walter Raleigh was Mayor of Youghal in 1588 and lived in the Warden's Residence (now known as Myrtle Grove). Having bought Sir Walter Raleigh's land for £1,000 in 1596, Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, bought the church on 29th March 1606. Two years later, at the cost of £2,000, he rebuilt the church making good the devastation of the Desmond Rebellion. He endeavoured at the same time to increase the population of the town by infusion of "an active and enterprising race of English inhabitants". In the civil war or 1641, Richard Boyle added two large towers to the house, built five circular turrets to around the park and cast a platform of earth on which he placed ordnance to command the town and harbour. He erected a marble monument for himself and his family which almost reaches the roof of the chapel. In 1649, during the Commonwealth, Oliver Cromwell conducted his campaign from Youghal and delivered a funeral oration from the top of a chest which is still preserved in the church.

In 1782, the house passed to Nicholas Giles who converted it for use as a dwelling. It is this house that is seen today surrounded by just two of the original defence towers, the rest having been removed in 1782.

George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne and great philosopher, took up residency as Warden of the College in 1734 and conducted services in the church. John Wesley, also visited Youghal in 1765 and attended Divine Service in St. Mary's. Large-scale works of restoration, including the re-edification of the Chancel, were carried out between 1851 and 1854. In 1833, £200 was given to the parish for slating the church roof and the present roof was accordingly put in. A restoration of a remedial nature was carried out between 1970 and 1973. In the late 1980s the Lady Chapel was restored.[citation needed]

National Monument

The Collegiate Church is a building of historical importance for Ireland. It occupies a site devoted to religious worship since early Christian times and is now a National Monument of Ireland. The Collegiate Church is under the care of the government, by way of an unusual lease between the Church of Ireland Representative Church Body, and the Youghal Urban District Council.[citation needed]


  • 1221 Nicholas De Cler
  • 1312 Hamon Le Blound
  • 1347 John De Tunstall
  • 1373 William De Karlele
  • 1384 John Drax
  • 1389 John Hunt
  • 1399 John Tanner
  • 1403 Thomas O'Galvan
  • 1464 Robert Miles & Philip Christofre
  • 1482 Donald O'Fallon
  • 1488 William Frauncis
  • 1490 Walter Stevyn
  • 1503 Cornelius Ronan & Florence O'Solovan
  • 1517 Dominus Alexander Gogh
  • 1521 Maurice Fitzjohn
  • 1525 Peter Walshe
  • 1534 Thomas Alen
  • 1535 Walter Manville
  • 1537 Peter Walsh
  • 1540 David Condowne
  • 1570 Roger Skiddy
  • 1580/81 Dr Marmaduke Middleton
  • 1587 Thomas Wethered
  • 1592 Nathaniel Baxter
  • 1598 John Chardin
  • 1598 Dr Meredith Hanmer
  • 1602 Daniel Sowlyvane
  • 1602/3 Dr Richard Boyle
  • 1615 Ricardus Boyle
  • 1619 Mr Suther
  • 1624 Lewis Trix
  • 1637 Gervaise Thorpe
  • 1638 Philemon Fitzsymons
  • 1650 James Wood
  • 1659 Raymond Burgh
  • 1661 Daniel Eyres (Curate)
  • 1662 James Spencer (Curate)
  • 1665 William Palmer
  • 1672 Samuel Jordan
  • 1681 Raymund Bourgh (Bourke)
  • 1682 Gilbert Heathcote (Curate)
  • 1693 Mathew Jones ("serves a cure")
  • 1697 Richard Davies (Curate)
  • 1712 Thomas Ryder (Curate)
  • 1727 Michael Davies (Curate) until 1746
  • 1730 Nathaniel France (Curate)
  • 1746 Francis Hamilton (Curate)
  • 1753 Atkin Hayman (Curate)
  • 1764 Jeremiah Pratt (Curate)
  • 1776 John Lawless (Curate)
  • 1780 Richard Vincent (Curate)
  • 1780 Jonas Pratt (2nd Curate)
  • 1787 Edward Spread (Curate)
  • 1804 Sackville Robert Hamilton (Curate)
  • 1805 John Uniake Swayne
  • 1806 Thomas Hoare (Curate)
  • 1807 Robert Bell (Curate)
  • 1818 William Hallaran (Curate)
  • 1819 William Welland
  • 1819 Bigoe Henzell
  • 1822 James Lawrance Cotter (Curate)

Rectors of Youghal

In 1827 the Bishop of Cloyne obtained an act "for the incumbent of the rectory to have the cure of souls in the said parish".

  • 1828 James Hingston
  • 1836 John Aldworth
  • 1847 Pierce William Drew
  • 1871 Richard Jones
  • 1901 John Richard Hedges Becher
  • 1907 Richard J. Hodges
  • 1925 Vivian W. Darling
  • 1934 F.T. Deacon
  • 1936 H. McCartney
  • 1948 S.R.C. Watts
  • 1955 Oliver A.P. Peare
  • 1964 T.H. Robinson
  • 1967 L. MacManaway
  • 1974 I.J. Power
  • 1982 H.M.D.M. St. G Durand, Bt
  • 1993 Peter Rhys Thomas
  • 1999 Susan Watterson
  • 2004 Andrew McCroskery
  • 2008 Michael Thompson
  • 2010 Patrick Hewitt

Famous burials


There is a long history of fine music in the church provided by The Clerks Choral.


In 1812 an organ was purchased and a gallery erected for it at the western end of the nave.[5] In 1861 a new organ was procured at a cost of £300 from Telford and Telford Organs Builders of Dublin. The organ was removed in 1965 as it was in a very poor condition and the on-going costs seemed impossible at the time.[6]

In 2007 a new organ was moved and restored by Neilands of Wexford, from the Closed Church of St. Michael-on-the-Mount-Without in the City of Bristol, England. It was installed on to the North Bay of the Crossing of the Great Nave.

Sacred Root Concerts

The setting of St Mary's Collegiate Church has hosted a series of Sacred Root concerts to raise spirits and with God's blessing finance current and future Sacred Root music projects. Recent events include John Spillane, Mick Flannery, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Kíla and Declan O'Rourke.

Photo gallery


  1. ^ Official website
  2. ^ Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, Taken from Diocesan and Parish Registries, Mss. in the Principal Libraries and Public Offices of Oxford, Dublin, and London, and from Private Or Family Papers edited by William Maziere Brady. Published by Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864
  3. ^ [ Youghal Catholic Parish website.
  4. ^ Catholic Encylopedia - Youghal.
  5. ^ Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, Taken from Diocesan and Parish Registries, Mss. in the Principal Libraries and Public Offices of Oxford, Dublin, and London, and from Private Or Family Papers edited by William Maziere Brady. Published by Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864, p.419
  6. ^ Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, Taken from Diocesan and Parish Registries, Mss. in the Principal Libraries and Public Offices of Oxford, Dublin, and London, and from Private Or Family Papers edited by William Maziere Brady. Published by Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864, p.421

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