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The historic walls of Youghal, a seaside town in county Cork, can boast an original construction date of approximately 1250 AD. Earliest upstanding remains of the walls are from the Anglo-Norman settlement period. Early pictorial maps show the town walls as having 13 towers.
Today, the landward wall survives almost intact and runs for up to one kilometer, with four towers remaining along this part of the wall. In the 15th century, a need for deeper shipping berths saw the quay area of the town moved southwards. To protect the new harbour, an extension to the existing walls was created. The walls were heightened and repaired by Sir Richard Boyle in the 17th Century.
The Last Witch of Youghal
There is a plaque on the town walls in relation to the last witch of Youghal. Florence Newton was committed to prison by the mayor of Youghal in March of 1661, accused of bewitching Mary Longdon, servant girl to a local bailiff. Newton was a beggar woman, who went from door to door scrounging whatever she could. It seems she was very intimidating and most people, out of fear, handed over whatever it was she asked for.
Mary Longdon refused to give her some beef and later fell ill, saying that Newton kissed her one day as she carried water from a well. This apparently resulted in all sorts of seizures and strange afflictions on the poor girl. To make matters worse for Newton, as she awaited trial, her jailer died suddenly. He had been ill for two weeks and nowadays it’s thought he had a stroke, but his dying words were, “She’s done for me,“ which didn’t do poor old Florence any favours. Add to that, his wife gave evidence at the trial that the old woman had kissed her husband’s hand.
The trial was considered so important, the Irish Attorney General took part in the prosecution and although sentenced to death, there is no record of what happened to Florence Newton. The old woman was believed to have the ability to disappear into thin air but she may have had knowledge of and access to, some of the underground tunnels running through the town and under its walls. These had served as escape routes for monks during times of persecution. Who knows, maybe Florence escaped through one of these and moved on to another town.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “From Every Angle.”