In the war of 1641 the town again became an important military station, and was defended against the insurgents by the Earl of Cork, at his own expense, with 1000 foot and 60 horse, in addition to which the townsmen maintained 15 companies without any other supply than what the earl might furnish. Sir Chas. Vavasour, with his regiment of 1000 men, came to their assistance in February 1642, and landed with some difficulty; soon after the earl held a session in the town, at which the principal insurgent leaders were indicted for high treason; this powerful nobleman died in the following year. In 1644 the native Irish were expelled from the town and their property was seized. In 1645 the place was besieged by Lord Castlehaven: although the town was in a very weak state of defence and the garrison small, the besiegers were several times repulsed and on the arrival of Lord Broghill with assistance, were compelled to abandon the enterprise. On the approach of Cromwell in 1649, the inhabitants embraced the cause of the parliament, and that general made Youghal his head-quarters till the spring; after the siege of Clonmel he returned and embarked here for England. By letters patent under the privy seal, dated Feb. 14th, 1660, their estates and franchises were restored to the inhabitants, being "innocent Papists", who had been deprived of them during Cromwell's usurpation. On the 2nd of August, 1690, after the reduction of Waterford, Youghal surrendered to a few dragoons of King William's army; and on the 9th the governor marched at the head of a small army to Castlemartyr, where he defeated a large number of the Irish, and seized the castle for the king's use. In 1696 the inhabitants manned a boat with 40 seamen and soldiers, and captured a French privateer which had put into the harbour to obtain supplies, and lay at anchor under Cable island. His late Majesty William IV., when Prince William Henry, visited Youghal as commander of the ship Pegasus, in 1787; and honoured the corporation with his company to dinner, on which occasion he was presented with the freedom of the borough.
The town is pleasantly situated on the western shore of the harbour to which it gives name, and which is enclosed between two bold eminences called Blackball Head and Knockvarry, leaving a channel of about half a mile in breadth for the confluent streams of the Toragh and the Blackwater, which discharge themselves into the bay. The Toragh is a boundary between Cork and Waterford for about two miles before it falls into the Blackwater, and then makes a bold sweep to the east and south, forming in appearance a fine lake, environed by an amphitheatre of verdant and gently sloping hills, which terminate abruptly on the south in the two bold eminences previously noticed. Knockvarry, rising immediately over the town, is in many places well planted. The principal street, from which diverge several smaller streets, is nearly a mile in length, and is divided by the clock gate into the north and south main-streets: the houses are irregularly built, but generally of respectable appearance, though occasionally intermixed with a few of the more ancient, which are in a ruinous and dilapidated state; the total number, in 1831, was 1249. The streets are pitched, but neither paved nor flagged; they are lighted with gas, and cleansed under the provisions of the act of the 9th of Geo. IV. The inhabitants are supplied with water from pumps erected in various parts; but the supply in dry seasons being deficient, and the water, from an admixture of sea water, being rendered unpalatable, it is in contemplation to bring water of a better quality to the houses by pipes from the extremities of the town, where there is an abundant supply. Within the last half century the town has extended itself in all directions; the ancient walls have been entirely removed, and a valuable piece of slab having been reclaimed by the corporation and their tenantry, Catherine-street, the Mall, and numerous extensive warehouses have been built on it. At the southern extremity of the town, near the old abbey, two ranges of spacious and handsome houses have been erected and an elegant and commodious hotel built by the Duke of Devonshire; on the west side of the town is Nelson-place; and a neat row of houses has been built on the east side. Most of the houses in the principal streets are either new or have been modernised; many of the ancient houses have been newly fronted, but may still be distinguished by their gable ends fronting the street, and their pointed doorways of stone. The town is much frequented during the summer for sea-bathing, for which it is well adapted, having a fine, smooth, and level strand extending nearly three miles along the western shore of the bay; but as a watering-place it is deficient in the accommodation of good lodgings, which might be easily supplied by the erection of marine villas and lodging-houses at the Cork entrance to the town, along the declivity of the hill, which would command a pleasing prospect of the bay, the strand, and Capell island. This would not only increase the number of visiters during the season, but induce many persons to take up their permanent abode in the town, which, among other advantages, enjoys the benefit of cheap and well supplied markets, salubrity of atmosphere, central situation, and excellent society.
The bridge over the Blackwater, a mile and a half north-east from the town, was erected in 1830, after a design of the late Alex. Nimmo, by George Nimmo, Esq., under the provisions of an act passed in 182S, which empowered certain commissioners to take ground and to erect a bridge from Foxhole, in the parish of St. Mary, Youghal, to the opposite shore, in the parish of Clashmore, county of Waterford. The expense of its erection, exclusively of £8509 paid to the corporation for the ferry, was £22,000, towards which Government advanced £10,000 as a loan: it was carried into execution by proprietary shareholders of £100 each, but the speculation has not renumerated them. This structure is built of Memel fir and is remarkably light and elegant: it is 1787 feet in length, including a drawbridge 40 feet long; its uniform breadth is 22 feet within the railings, which are 4 1/2 feet in height; and the whole is supported on 57 sets of piers of five pillars each. The gas-works, on the strand adjoining the northern entrance to the town, were built in 1830 under the provisions of the act of the 9th of Geo. IV.; the establishment is managed by 21 commissioners.
A public library was established in 1825 by a proprietary of 30 shareholders of 5 guineas, who also annually subscribe half a guinea each; the subscription for non-proprietors is a guinea, and it is open to strangers on introduction by a proprietor, on payment of half a crown monthly; the number of volumes is about 800, exclusive of a copy of Rees's Cyclopaedia, presented by the Duke of Devonshire. There are two public reading-rooms, one in the Mall-house and the other in the national school-rooms, both well furnished with English and Irish newspapers, periodicals, and works of reference. The Youghal Literary and Scientific Institution, for the diffusion of knowledge by lectures on subjects capable of practical illustration, was founded in 1833, and is supported by annual subscriptions of half a guinea each, which entitle the subscriber and his family to admission to the lectures: a library and museum are in course of formation. Balls and concerts are held during the summer season at the Mall-house. A savings' bank has been established, and a large and handsome building, in which the business is now conducted, was erected in 1831, the expense of which was defrayed from the accumulated surplus fund: the management is remarkably good and the deposits numerous. On an eminence north of the town are infantry barracks for the accommodation of 6 officers and 180 men.
The woollen, manufacture was formerly carried on here to a considerable extent, but has long since been discontinued; that of porcelain and fine delf was likewise carried on for a time: but the only manufactures at present are those of bricks, of which some of a very fine quality are sent coastwise to Cork; a coarse kind of pottery made for the use of the neighbourhood, and an extensive rope-manufacture. A large porter and ale brewery was established at the northern end of the town by Messrs. Deaves and Eustace, the machinery of which is of the most improved kind; a malting concern is connected with it. Messrs. Keays and Messrs. Ronayne have each establishments for the purchase and export of salmon in ice; the annual amount of export is valued at about £2500. At the north end of the town is a quarry of good clay-slate, used as building stone, which produces an abundant supply; it is the property of the corporation, who generously give it to the quarry men working it, by whom the produce is disposed of to great advantage. The trade of the port is very considerable, especially the coasting trade; it consists chiefly of the export of agricultural produce and the import of coal, culm, timber, Staffordshire ware, porter, and groceries for the supply of the neighbourhood. In 1835 there were sent from this port 156,653 barrels of oats, 12,827 of wheat, and 16,973 of barley, 13,123 sacks of flour, 832 barrels of rye, 8593 firkins and 419 kegs of butter, 641 sacks of biscuit, 2190 bales of bacon, 6429 live pigs, 866 head of cattle, 434 sheep, 40 hogsheads of lard, 613 gallons of whiskey, and a large quantity of dried salmon. The number of vessels that cleared outwards was 420 with cargoes and 46 in ballast; and the number that entered inwards was 459 with cargoes of coal, culm, and timber, and 26 in ballast. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port was 28, of the aggregate burden of 2998 tons, of which two were engaged in the foreign trade: the duties paid at the custom-house amounted to £561. 15. 2.
The harbour is safe and commodious, and at spring tides is accessible to vessels of 500 tons' burden; ships not drawing more than 12 feet of water may ride afloat off the town; but there is a bar across the entrance, extending about a mile to the south, on which are only five feet at low water, and thirteen feet at high water of neap tides; the sea is consequently rough when the wind blows on the shore or against the tide. The quays are extensive and commodious, and on one of them is the custom-house, a building well adapted to its purpose; but Youghal being only a creek to Cork, most of the large vessels discharge at the latter port. Here is a coast-guard station, consisting of one officer and nine men under a resident inspecting commander, forming the head of the district of Youghal, which comprises the subordinate stations of Helwick Head, Ardmore, Knockadoon, and Ballycotton. The market is daily, but the principal market is on Saturday, which is large and well supplied, particularly with fish, meat, and vegetables; and a fair is held on Ascension-day. There is a convenient market-place for butchers' meat and another for fish. A mail coach from Cork to Waterford passes through the town every evening, and another to the latter city is despatched every morning; besides which, there are several stage coaches every day to Cork.
The earliest charter to Youghal on record, exclusively of those of a temporary nature, is that of the 49th of Edw. III., directing that the dues hitherto paid at Cork for certain staple articles should henceforward be paid in the port of Youghal. Another charter of the 2nd of Edw. IV. granted to the sovereign and provosts the cognizance of pleas to any amount, both real and personal, and appointed the sovereign clerk of the market, with power to regulate the weights and measures and the assize of bread, also escheator and admiral of the port, which was made a petty limb of the cinque ports of Ireland. A charter of the 2nd of Rich. III. changed the titles of Sovereign and Provosts into those of Mayor and Bailiffs, and incorporated the town by the name of "the Mayor, Bailiffs, Burgesses and Commonalty of the Town of Youghal," with cognizance of all pleas real and personal, and a court of record every Friday, the freemen to be free of tolls throughout England and Ireland, and the corporation to have the customs and cocquet from the headland of Ardmore and Capell island to the island of Toureen. The charter of the 12th of Hen. VII. granted the corporation a ferry at Youghal and a mease of herrings from every fishing boat. That of the 7th of Jas. I., which is considered to be the governing charter, after confirming all the privileges in former grants, and licensing two weekly markets and two fairs, granted a corporation of the staple, as in Dublin, the retiring mayor and bailiffs to be mayor and constables of the staple for the ensuing year; the mayor, deputy mayor, recorder, and bailiffs to be justices of the peace and of oyer and terminer for the borough, and for the county of Cork; and licensed the mayor to have a sword borne before him. The charter granted by Jas. II., in the fourth year of his reign, is not considered valid. The borough appears to have exercised the elective franchise by prescription, as, though no notice of that privilege appears in any of its charters, it continued to send two members to the Irish parliament from the year 1374 till the Union, since which period it has returned one member to the imperial parliament; the right of election was vested solely in the members of the corporation and the freemen, whether resident or not; but by the act of the 2nd of Wm. IV., cap. 88, it has been granted to the £10 householders, and the non-resident freemen have been disfranchised. A new boundary has been drawn round the town, including an area of 212 statute acres, the limits of which are minutely detailed in the appendix. The number of electors registered up to the beginning of 1836 was 333: the mayor is the returning officer. The mayor is elected from among the burgesses annually; the bailiffs are elected annually at the same court out of the freemen; the aldermen are those burgesses who have been mayors; the burgesses, those freemen who have been bailiffs: the number of each class is unlimited: the freemen are chosen at the court of D'Oyer Hundred, but must be proposed by the mayor; no qualification on the part of the candidate is required. The court of D'Oyer Hundred is an assemblage of all the members of the corporation, and exercises the right of admitting freemen, disposing of the corporation property, and performing all other corporate acts except the election of officers. There is a class of freemen, called freemen of trade, arising from a power given to the corporation to license foreigners to trade in the town, but they exercise no political functions. The recorder is elected for life at a special meeting of the corporate body, called a court of election. The court of quarter sessions, held by the mayor, bailiffs and recorder, has jurisdiction in all cases, but confines its proceedings to larcenies and misdemeanours punishable by fine and imprisonment. The court of pleas or record, held before the mayor and bailiffs, or one of them, assisted in special cases by the recorder, takes cognizance of pleas to any amount. The police consists of a chief constable (who is also sword-bearer), and 8 constables: a party of the county police is stationed in the town, under the control of the mayor. The property of the corporation consists of lands and tenements, yielding about £900 per ann.; of tolls and customs, producing an uncertain amount; and of an annuity from the commissioners of the Blackwater bridge, being the interest on £8500, the purchase money of the ferry. The Mall-house, in which the borough courts are held and the public business of the corporation is transacted, is a handsome structure, built by the corporation in 1779, on a site reclaimed from the slab: it contains, besides the court-rooms, an assembly-room, a reading-room, and the Mayor's offices: adjoining it is an agreeable promenade. The borough gaol is a lofty square building of four stories, called the Dockgate, surmounted by a lantern and cupola containing the town clock; it was rebuilt in 1777, but is defective in several of the accommodations essential to the health of the prisoners and the proper regulation of the place.
The parish comprises 9000 acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the surface is exceedingly undulating, and the lands are mostly under cultivation or planted; the substratum is clay-slate, the soil light but productive, and the system of agriculture is rapidly improving: there is a small portion of waste land, which is chiefly composed of marsh and turbary, comprising about 400 acres; it is being reclaimed and brought into cultivation. The surrounding scenery is varied, bold, and interesting, and is embellished with numerous gentlemen's seats and flourishing plantations. Among these are Myrtle Grove, built in 1586 by Sir Walter Raleigh, and for some time the residence of that distinguished person, since whose death it has experienced but little alteration: it is the property of the representatives of the late Walter Hayman, Esq., and is now inhabited by Col. Faunt. The house is situated in a secluded spot near the church, and, with the exception of some of the windows which have been modernised, preserves its antique character of pointed gables and spacious chimneys, and is considered a perfect specimen of the Elizabethan style of architecture. The drawing-room is panelled with polished oak superbly carved; the mantel piece is an elaborate and exquisite specimen of carved work in the richest designs, the lower cornice resting upon three beautiful figures representing Faith, Hope, and Charity, and the whole embellished with a profusion of richly carved figures and emblematical devices. In removing the panelling of one of the rooms, some years since, an aperture in the wall was discovered in which were found several old books; one bound in oak, and printed at Mantua in 1479, consisted of two parts, one in black letter, a history of the Bible, with coloured initials; the other an ecclesiastical history by John Schallus, professor of physic at Hernfield, dedicated to Prince Gonzales; it is now in the possession of Mathew Hayman, Esq., of this town. The demesne of Myrtle Grove was remarkable for the luxuriant growth of myrtles, bays, the arbutus and other exotics in the open air, but all the largest myrtles have been cut down by the present tenant. On a hill above the town the potatoe, brought by Sir W. Raleigh from America, was planted; but from an erroneous opinion that the apple which grew on the stalk was the sole produce of the plant, it was gathered and rejected; and it was not till some time after, when the ground was dug for another crop, that the potatoes were discovered and the value of the plant appreciated: from these few plants the whole country was in course of time stocked. College House, the property of the Duke of Devonshire, is a handsome modern edifice, the ancient house built in 1464, having been taken down; it is a quadrilateral building with a circular tower at each angle; in the great hall is preserved one of the ancient mantel-pieces of the old house, of the same character but not of such elaborate workmanship as that at Myrtle Grove; the grounds are ornamented with myrtles, bay-trees, and the arbutus. The other gentlemen's residences are Green Park, that of Capt. H. Parker, R. N.; Clifton, of Sir Wm. Homan, Bart.; Bellevue, of J. Power, Esq.; Nelson Hill, of Mrs. Green; Muckridge, of Wm. Fitzgerald, Esq.; Brooklodge, of Mrs. Marsden; Healthfield, of Capt. Cotter; Rockville, of Thos. Fuge, Esq.; and the Cottage, of Thos. Seward, Esq.; besides numerous large and handsome houses in the town.
The living is a rectory, formerly annexed to the Wardenship of the College of St. Mary, Youghal, as united in perpetuity to the see of Cloyne, by act of council in 1639, but separated from it by an act obtained by the late Dr. Brinkley; it now forms a distinct living, but the wardenship is still annexed to the bishoprick, and the Bishop is patron of the rectory. The tithes amount to £521. 3. 3. The collegiate establishment was founded in 1464, by Thomas, Earl of Desmond, and consisted of a warden, eight fellows, and eight singing men: it was endowed with the parsonages of Aghem, Moyallow, Newtown, and Oletion, to which were subsequently added those of Ardagh, Clonpriest, Garrivoe, Ightermurragh, Kilcredan, and Killeagh, and the vicarage of Kilmacdonough, in the diocese of Cloyne, and four others in that of Ardfert, of all which the duties were performed by the warden and fellows. The collegiate church was a magnificent structure in the enriched Gothic style of architecture, with a lofty tower on the north side: it consisted of a nave, choir, transepts, and north and south aisles; the nave and aisles have been fitted up for the parish church: the chancel or choir is a splendid ruin, the north transept is used as a vestry, and the south contains some ancient monuments of the founder, and also of the Earls of Cork and other branches of that family; the latter transept is considered the private property of the Duke of Devonshire; it is much neglected and fast going to decay. The edifice is remarkably handsome and contains a throne for the bishop, as Warden of Youghal, and a state pew for the corporation. Near the south end of the town is a chapel of ease, a neat plain building, erected in 1817 on the cemetery of the ancient Dominican friary, at an expense of £1200, of which £900 was a gift from the late Board of First Fruits and £300 was raised by subscription. The R. C. district comprises the whole of the parishes of St. Mary Youghal and Clonpriest: the chapel is a handsome structure, 100 feet in length and 50 in breadth, built by subscription, aided by a donation of £700 from Dr. Coppinger, late R. C. bishop of Cloyne, under whose patronage it was erected; above the altar is a fine painting of the Crucifixion, brought from Lisbon. At the south entrance of the town a handsome convent for nuns of the Presentation order has been erected, towards the expense of which £2000 was received from Miss Gould, of Doneraile; attached to it are a small chapel and the female national schools. There are also places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists.
There are 19 schools in the parish, affording instruction to 1785 children. Of these, the male and female general free schools are supported by subscription and collections after annual sermons in the churches; the master and mistress have each a residence. The Youghal united schools are upon a novel but very interesting plan; they are self-supporting institutions, managed by a committee, and the children obtain a good English education. The national school is supported by an annual grant of £30 from the Board of Education and collections at the R. C. chapel; it is attended by 527 boys, who are instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, and the mathematics by four monks of the Augustinian order, being a filiation of the parent house (the Presentation monastery, Cork), and one lay brother. The convent school, in which are 600 girls, is conducted by the ladies of the convent; and an infants' school is supported by subscription among Protestants. The ancient school, founded by the Earl of Cork in 1634, has an endowment of £30 per annum, paid by the Duke of Devonshire, and affords instruction to 18 boys; the master has a house and some excellent land. The remainder are private boarding and day schools, and are wholly supported by the pupils. The Earl of Cork's alms-houses for poor widows, founded in 1634, adjoin the free school; they have been recently rebuilt in their original style, with the arms of the founder in front; they contain apartments for six poor widows, who are supplied with fuel and receive £5 per annum from the Duke of Devonshire. The alms-houses founded by Mr. Ronayne have fallen into decay, there being no endowment for their maintenance. A Protestant almshouse was established in 1834 by subscription, in which are maintained 22 aged persons, who receive religious instruction every day from a minister of the Established Church; and there is a parochial poor establishment, in which 40 poor persons are supported chiefly by collections made in the church. The infirmary, fever-hospital, and dispensary are situated in a healthy and retired spot just without the town, and have the benefit of a resident medical attendant; they are under the direction of a committee of management, and are conducted with the strictest attention to economy and usefulness in every department. The lying-in hospital, established in 1824, is supported by donations and subscriptions, and affords relief also to patients at their own houses. A Ladies' Association for improving the condition of poor females, by affording employment in spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, and hackling, was established in 1823, and is supported by subscription. The Tuscan plat institution, which grew out of the former, was commenced in 1829, under the patronage and personal direction of the lady of the Rev. H. Swanzy, who established a platting school for the instruction and subsequent employment of destitute females, whose moral improvement was to be promoted by a perusal of the Scriptures. This establishment affords employment to more than 30 females, and since its commencement has paid upwards of £800 to the most destitute class of society. John Perry, Esq., bequeathed a sum now producing £22 per annum; Dr. Hayes left £100, which has accumulated to £217, and now produces £13. 0. 4 3/4. per annum; John Spencer, in 1690, gave a rent-charge of £1; Mr. Cozens bequeathed a house, in 1783, which is now let for £18 per annum; Mr. John Rea, in 1795, bequeathed £100; Mr. W. Mannix, a rent-charge of £6; and Mr. Hobson, one of £3; producing altogether £66. 6. 10 3/4. per annum for distribution among the poor. Thomas Croker, in 1718, left a rent-charge of £4, the payment of which has been latterly discontinued.
The western gable and some of the eastern portions of the Dominican friary, at the north end of the town, still remain. The chancel of the collegiate church of St. Mary, now in ruins, affords a good specimen of its former magnificence; the east window of six lights is richly embellished with flowing tracery; on the north side of the altar is a canopied niche with crocketed finials of elegant design, in which was formerly a tomb, now removed, but there is still remaining the inscription, "Hic jacet Thomas Fleming:" on the south side of the altar is another ancient tomb. On the south side is a chapel, formerly called the chantry of our Blessed Saviour, which was purchased from the corporation by the first Earl of Cork, and contains the remains of that nobleman and of several of his family, to whose memory is a handsome altar-tomb, bearing his effigy recumbent under a splendid arch, with those of his two wives kneeling; on either side, and around, are the effigies of his children: over the monument is a large mural tablet of black marble, with the genealogy of the family; there is also the monument of the founder of the chapel, which having been defaced in the Desmond rebellion was restored by the Earl; and a splendid monument of white marble to the memory of Lord Broghill. The south transept or chapel, now used as a vestry, contains some ancient monuments, among which is one to the Uniacke family, with a cross fleury and inscription, both in relief, but much injured by exposure to the damp; it bears the date 1557. At the west entrance into the church are two monuments found, a few years since, in digging the foundations of the new buildings on the site of the ancient Franciscan monastery at the south end of the town, one bearing a male and the other a female effigy, supposed to be husband and wife, with an inscription in Norman French nearly obliterated: on the north side of the altar is a very chaste and beautiful monument of white marble, to the family of Smith, of Ballinatra. In the churchyard, which is one of the most spacious in the kingdom, are also many curious ancient monuments deserving of notice. Of the ancient walls little remains excepting on the western side of the town, where they are tolerably perfect, and one of the old round towers is remaining. The gates have all been removed, except the Water gate leading out to the quay, which is extremely dilapidated; and the Dock-gate, which has been recently rebuilt. In the north main street is Tynte's castle, which is in the style of those erected in the reign of Elizabeth; it was built by a powerful family of that name, from one of whom Smith relates that the Lord-President was obliged to seize £4000 for the supply of his army. At the north-eastern extremity of the parish, near the river Toragh, are the remains of the castle of Kilnatoragh, a noble structure formerly belonging to the great Earl of Desmond. Several of the ancient houses are still remaining in the town, some of them having the staircases in the walls, which are of extraordinary thickness: among them is one said to have been that of Coppinger, the mayor who was hanged before his own door, and also one in which Cromwell took up his residence during his stay here. A great quantity of silver coins was found here in 1830; the number could not be ascertained, but more than 400 oz. were sold as old silver in Cork; they were mostly pence and half groats of Edw. I., and also some halfpennies of the same reign. In 1818, several pieces of stamped pewter of the size of half-crowns and shillings were found near the walls, which had evidently been made and passed as money. Many remains of crosses, croziers, and other ornaments worn by the monks and friars have been found. On the old Cork road, near Mary Ville, the residence of Mr. Taylor, are the remains of an ancient Danish fort, which runs under ground nearly a mile. There are two chalybeate springs, one on the Spa road near the fever hospital, and the other at the quarry near the Waterford road, which are but seldom used. The Earl of Cork and Orrery, among his inferior titles in the peerage of Ireland, enjoys that of Baron Boyle, of Youghal.