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Richard Boyle – 1st Earl of Cork

Died in 1643 – possibly the wealthiest man in Ireland

Richard Boyle, was born in Canterberry and came to Ireland in 1588, a young man of meagre means but with huge ambition.   He ingratiated himself to all that was powerful and proved himself a very astute and successful business man.

Boyle’s marriage to heiress Joan Apsley in 1595 brought him considerable wealth and allowed him to purchase Raleigh’s estates.  Walter Raleigh had failed to make a success of the 42,000 acres of land granted to him under the plantation of Munster and  purchase of these lands by Richard Boyle proved a very beneficial enterprise for both Boyle and Youghal Town.   He brought over excellent settlers from England, consisting of veteran soldiers and many other enterprising persons.  Boyle was influential in the granting of a new charter to Youghal in 1609 which was important in the future development of the town. Exports from the area included pipe staves, wool and cattle, while goods such as wine, cloth, tobacco and luxury items for the English settlers were imported.  He became the most successful of the New English Planters that arrived in Ireland during the late 16th and early 17th century.  He used many means to achieve this, some honest, some shady, but all calculated.   Richard Boyle played an important role in defending Youghal during the risings of 1641 and ensured that it remained loyal to the English cause.

Richard Boyle died in 1643, possibly the wealthiest man in Ireland.  He is buried in the South Transept of St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, Youghal, in The Boyle Chapel, where he had his elaborate family monument erected in his own honour in 1619.


Little Gems
In the era when there were no banks, all of Richard Boyle’s financial dealings consisted of gold, silver and IOUs.  However, every aspect of every transaction, personal and business, was meticulously recorded and scrutinised by Richard Boyle himself.  No expenditure escaped the keen and frugal eye of the wealthiest man in Ireland, even down to the embroidery threads used by his wife .