St. Mary's Collegiate Church was built around 1250 and in recent years was declared a National Monument of Ireland. It's believed to have been built on a site of an earlier religious settlement founded by St. Declan, dating as far back as 450 and was rebuilt in Irish Romanesque style in 750. The current stone church was built to replace the timber structure which was destroyed by a storm in 1192.
Inside you can still see the masons 'signature' marks cut in the pillars on the arches. They are the same as those found in German Cathedrals built around that time, which indicates that the workers travelled around Europe. If the stonemasons didn't mark their work then they would not have got paid.
The church has several old tombs including Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, who looks very relaxed on his tomb! He was born in Canterbury, Kent in 1566, and arrived in Ireland around 1588. After marrying a wealthy heiress, Joan Aspley in 1595, he was able to purchase Sir Walter Raleigh's 42,000 acre estate for a mere £1,500, which included castles, lands and the towns of Youghal, Lismore and Cappaquin,
and also Myrtle Grove, Sir Walter's house, which still stands next door to the church.
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