Walter Raleigh, one of notable figures of this era and was a favourite at the court of Queen Elizabeth 1. He served in the army during the suppression of the Desmond rebellion in 1579. For his services to the Crown, he benefited from the subsequent distribution of land as part of the Munster Plantation, receiving some 42,000 acres and properties in the important towns of Youghal and Lismore. Youghal was the home of Sir Walter Raleigh for short periods during the seventeen years in which he held land in Ireland. Unsurprisingly, he was knighted in 1584. Raleigh was elected Mayor of Youghal in 1588 & 1589. The 1590s brought difficulties on Raleigh’s Irish plantations at a time when his own fortunes were in decline. He experienced difficulties in inducing English tenants to settle on his estates and also his exporting business began to suffer under new exporting restrains levied by English Privy Council. During this time Raleigh became obsessed with the notion of establishing a permanent colony in the “New World” and with his Irish estates causing him financial and mental distress, he decided to sell them to Sir Richard Boyle in 1602 for the paltry sum of £1,500. This concluded his involvement with the plantation of Munster.
Legend recalls how, having introduced tobacco to Ireland, Raleigh was smoking in the garden of his home at Myrtle Grove, Youghal, when his servant, never having seen tobacco before, threw water over him believing that her master had been set alight.