Before you get to Youghal, it’s advisable to learn it doesn’t rhyme with frugal. This will reduce your chances of being mocked as a clueless Canadian. It’s Yawl, y’all.
Having found yourself in Youghal, East Cork, in the pouring rain, immediately seek shelter and advice inside the visitor centre.
Chat up the helpful young lass whose enthusiasm for Youghal is contagious. After she gives you a map for a self-guided walking tour, ask her what’s playing at the local cinema. Rejoice when it turns out to be the film everyone in Ireland is talking about, which you’re dying to see. Ask her to look up show times on her computer. Rejoice again when you learn the evening showing ends 15 minutes before your B&B host has arranged to pick you up at the end of your day in town.
Proceed through the door in the wall to the Youghal Heritage Centre, quite possibly the best and most informative small-town museum you’ve ever visited. Learn Youghal is renowned as the site of two transformative events in Ireland’s history: the first cigarette smoked in the country and the introduction of potato cultivation – both by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Having escaped the rain for an hour, just before exiting the building, support the toilet fund.
Dash straight to Cal Flavin’s on North Main Street and buy an umbrella.
Sheltered from the elements now, proceed south along North Main Street, walking under the arch of the Clock Gate Tower. Try not to feel the energy of the United Irishmen who were hanged from its windows. Discover it’s impossible.
Restore peace of mind in the grotto behind St Mary’s Catholic Church on Ashe Street.
Continue along Ashe Street to the contentiously named Raleigh Quarter, where a sign will direct you to “one of Ireland’s best-preserved medieval town walls.” Trudge uphill through the soggy College Gardens to find that access to the wall is closed for repairs.
Consider taking shelter under a tree.
Since you’re up there anyway, enjoy the view.
Next, go into the other St Mary’s – St Mary’s Collegiate – a Protestant church that claims to be the oldest church in Ireland still in use. Look up.
Those timbers have been carbon dated to 1170. After wandering through the church in amazement, step outside.
Try to figure out if the headstones lining the garden wall are marking actual burial sites. And if so, are they underneath the gravel or the plants?
As you walk down Church Street, pass the house where Sir Walter purportedly smoked the first cigarette. Wish you had a cigarette on you. For the selfie. You know.
Settle for a pint at The Nook, which the Treacey family has owned since 1901.
Head to the local library. Hang out for a couple of hours. Charge your device. Become a member because why not?
By then it will be time for an early dinner before the show.
When offered a choice between the pub and the restaurant, choose the pub.
Enjoy a great meal and top it off with ice cream.
Don’t be late for the movie!