The Building

The Collegiate Church of Saint Mary

St. Mary’s Church in Youghal is of remote antiquity. It is one of the oldest Christian sites in the country and occupies a site devoted to religious worship from pre-Christian times. The building is now a National Monument of unparalleled historical importance for Ireland.

The church is presumed to have been a monastic settlement of Saint Declan of Ardmore (c450). Rebuilt in the Hiberno-Romanesque style (c750) the Great Nave was erected in the year 1220. That the early 13th century re-building was under the direction and at the hands of four guilds of operative master masons is witnessed to by the masons marks to be found on the pillars of the gothic arches.

The main entrance to the church is through the decorated West doorway. Adjoining the building is a sixty-three foot donjon tower of feudal times, now used as the bell tower. The extensive graveyard is almost completely surrounded by the town walls, where one can inspect the Archers’ Walk and a space for a pauper’s coffin.