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18th Century Youghal

Starting in the early decades of the eighteenth century, Youghal was enlarged to almost twice that of the medieval town …

Starting in the early decades of the 1700s Youghal was enlarged to almost twice that of the medieval town; when a great period of Georgian expansion of the waterfront began.  Trade was prosperous, but was still moved mainly through the enclosed medieval harbour.   This was accessed from the town at a single point through the Watergate that crosses the modern Quay Lane.

To support the increased trade there was a need for better ship berthing and warehousing facilities beyond the restrictive defended harbour. The Town Corporation began to lease parts of the waterfront to local merchants; and, as part of the lease arrangements, the merchants were required to build new quays outside the line of the old harbour and town wall.  On these new quays multi-storey warehouses were built for the storing and trading of goods. Other developments also occurred at this time, including the Clock Gate Tower (completed in 1777), which stands on the site of the earlier Trinity Gate, part of the medieval Town Wall.

The expansion eastward into the River Blackwater gave us the quayside waterfront that remains today, with the names of the many merchants who built them, such as Green’s Quay, Harvey’s Dock, and Nealon’s Quay.  By 1750 the medieval harbour had been in-filled and is today beneath the Market Square.  Long established trading links gave Youghal a cosmopolitan air, while the military garrison contributed to the economic and social life of the town.  Prosperous trade and manufacturing conditions encouraged the increase of Youghal’s population and was reflected in the spread of the town beyond the old walls.