It’s a relaxed 40-minute drive along the coast from Ballycotton to the historic walled harbour-town of Youghal , once part of a great land grant by Queen Elizabeth to her favourite admiral, explorer, adventurer and spy, Sir Walter Raleigh. The great sea captain was an early explorer of North and South America, and it was to Youghal that he brought back and planted Europe’s first potatoes.
Here you will find Raleigh’s main residence in the town, Myrtle Grove and just a few steps away, St Mary’s Collegiate Church . This medieval jewel is on the site of an even earlier monastery founded in 450AD by St Declan, the monk who converted the fierce sea-raiding tribes known as the Déisi to Christianity.
Look for the ancient stone built into the walls of the Church which tells of other sea-raiders. It bears the carved outline of a Viking longboat, a warning from the 9th Century Celts of the Norsemen who would strike this coast like a winter storm.