An iconic clock gate tower is to re-open to the public shortly.

The landmark monument on Youghal’s main thoroughfare has been fully restored.

The tourism sector in the East Cork town envisages an economic boast of at least €1.4m annually.

It will re-open as a museum and interpretive centre.

Craftsmen and technicians from 17 specialist Irish companies are presently fitting out all four floors of the tower.

“We’re looking at specialist joinery, electrics, graphics, costumes, models, audio-visual aids and film production,” said Aileen Murray, manager of the Youghal Socio-Economic Development Group (YSEDG).

The group is spearheading the €650,000 restoration project.

Each floor will depict a historic period covering the 1400s, 1700s, 1800s and 1900s, and culminating in the building’s use as a private residence to the McGrath family in the 1950s.

The project is being designed by Scroope Design, Courtmacsherry.

The Clock Gate stands on the site of the former Trinity Castle, one of five gateways into Youghal.

The actual clock was installed in 1620 to broadcast the death of children and was retained when the tower was built in the 1770s.

It also served as a prison until 1837.

A few floggings and executions were associated with the tower, particularly after the 1798 rebellion.

However, most serious offenders were generally transferred to Cork.

The new attraction will also reflect the town’s evolving social, political and commercial life outside the town centre jail.

The building closed as a small museum in 1993, with the current renewal launched by the former town council in 2008.

Cork County Council currently leases the monument to the YSEDG under a 10-year contract.

The restoration programme was boosted by Fáilte Ireland’s Ancient Ireland East initiative as the tourist body provided €200,000 funding towards the €350,000 design and fit-out stage, with match funding from Cork County Council.

Previously, conservation and restoration of the building’s exterior was funded by €240,000 from SECAD, while Youghal Town Council had contributed towards preliminary €60,000 planning costs.

Visitors will book tours not exceeding 20 members at the nearby tourist office.

Technology and craft will play a part, including language translations and digitally-created images of old Youghal but it will, ultimately, “be all about stories”, said Ms Murray.

Cork historian Dr Alicia St Leger has researched extensively to create scripted tales of bygone times.

“The stories are highly authentic and derived from archival records and similar sources,” according to Ms Murray.

“They will bring Youghal and the clock gate’s past to life magnificently.”


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