The Walshes were an affluent merchant family that were resident in Youghal since at least the late 14th century; in 1382 John Walsh, mariner, was granted a royal pardon for having lost a customs seal. The Walshes were part of a prominent mercantile urban elite that built strong fortified residences and stores in the form of urban tower houses in order to consolidate their position.
In the 16th century, the Walsh’s were prominent in civic office in Youghal; William Walsh was Mayor in 1527, 1544 and 1548; Christopher Walsh was Mayor in 1549; and Jonathan Walsh held office in 1565. A Peter Walsh was Warden of the College of Youghal in 1525. The Walsh family in Youghal were part of a larger group of Walsh’s in East Cork that were vassals of the overlord Earls of Desmond since the 14th century. At the time of the Earl of Desmond’s rebellion in the late 1570’s and early 1580’s, the Walshes sided with their overlord and suffered forfeiture of their lands and castles when the uprising failed. It was because of this that their castle in Youghal was lost to the crown and ownership transferred to the Corporation.
Tynte’s castle became the property of Robert Tynte when it was indefinitely leased to him by the Corporation and thereby acquired its present name. Robert Tynte was the fifth son of Edmund Tynte of Wraxhall, Somerset, England. He arrived in Ireland some time in the late 16th century as part of a group of entrepreneurial soldiers and administrators to form the new English government in Munster. These men were arriving in Ireland at a time when English Royal administration was reasserting its power in Munster following the Desmond Rebellion. A great sea change was taking place with the replacement of the Gaelic lordship economy with a market style English economy.
Tynte worked as a soldier and administrator for the Office of the Sheriff of Cork and became acquainted with Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork. Boyle is closely associated with the history of Youghal, purchasing the town as part of his acquisition of the Munster estate of Sir Walter Raleigh. Richard Boyle had a substantial residence, known today as ‘The College’, close to St. Mary’s Collegiate Church. In 1612, Tynte married Elizabeth Boyle, widow of the poet Edmund Spenser, author of the Faerie Queene. Tynte occupied the office of Sheriff of Cork from 1625 to 26. Tynte acquired a permanent lease of Walsh’s castle from the corporation of Youghal some time after the forfeiture of the building in 1584. By securing the castle in Youghal Tynte was able to gain a firm foothold in the new economic infrastructure that was being promoted by a re-assertive English administration in Ireland.
The castle provided a secure storage facility and safe accommodation in the town for Tynte in Youghal, and a base for his operations. This new economic landscape was based on exploitation of the land for profitable returns. In order to realize these returns as profit, trade and export through the towns again became important. Port towns, especially those of Cork, Kinsale and Youghal developed rapidly in the later 16th and early 17th centuries to serve the needs of an ever-expanding agricultural hinterland in Munster. In the 17th century, Youghal handled most of Munsterês export and Cork the imports. From 4378 stones in 1616, the export of raw wool from Youghal rose to 15,716 in 1625.
It is not known if and for how long Robert Tynte was in residence in the castle; he also acquired lands in the Barony of Imokilly, amongst these was the rural tower house at Ballycrenane, near Ladysbridge, Co. Cork. Records of agreements of lease in the Council Book of the Corporation of Youghal suggests that Tynte sub-let the tower house to local merchants in Youghal in 1629:
12. The grant of the Castle of Youghal and other lands, from Sir Rob. Tynt unto John Browne, Percy Smith, &c, for and in consideration of 100li. Paid 4° Caroli Regis.
An earlier entry in the Council Book relates the following:
12 Jan. 1626 Teigh Mourfie of Y., broguemaker, was admitted a freeman at large, on condition that he shall clear the passage and goute of water that is in the street and goes under Sir Robert Tint’s castle, and to get an iron gate therein, and keep the same clear and running during his lifetime, granted on his own motion.
It is probable that the tower house in Youghal was used for trading produce from the rural hinterland, including those of Tynte, whilst the residential space above would have provided apartments in town. In 1663, Robert Tynte died and was buried at Kilcredan graveyard, near Ladysbridge, Co Cork. After Robert’s death, the castle appears to have remained part of his families estate, until it was finally sold-on in 1866. His descendants remained active in the political life of the town until the early 18th century, when the Right Hon. Sir James Tynte of Old Bawn, Dublin and Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow was elected parliamentary representative for Youghal. Little is known of the castles role during the Cromwellian occupation of the town; a substantial structure such as it would have been important to any occupying force. Youghal sided with Parliamentarians when Oliver Cromwell arrived at the gates in August 1649. Cromwell quartered his army in Youghal during the winter of 1649-50. An unsuccessful attempt to burn the castle was made in 1689 while it was being used as a place of confinement for old Cromwellian supporters during the reign of James II. Samuel Hayman records the following anecdote about the castle as this time:
“Sixty three years ago”, said an aged Cromwellian descendant to us last summer , “when I was a child of five or six, my grandfather, a very old man, took me by the hand, as I walked with him in the street under Tynte’s castle. “Child!” he said, and his voice made me tremble, so dreadful was its tone, “look up at that castle. There the father of my grandfather was imprisoned for a year, and so cruelly used that, when released by King William’s army, he died in three months after. He made his solemnly promise he would teach his children, and that they should teach their children and their childrenês children, what he suffered. Child! Never forget ’89 – never forgive King James!”
Little else is currently known of the history of the castle until its conversion to a grain store. The castle was recorded as being one of the locations that delimits judicial boundaries within the town, often mentioned in 17th century ordinances of the Corporation. Towards the end of the 17th century and especially during the 18th century, a rapid expansion eastward into the river saw the creation of large tracts of new ground behind the castle site. By inference, it can be supposed that the commercial importance of the castle diminished as new and larger structures and warehouses, that did not need to be defended, were being constructed on the new land. At some time during the 19th century, possibly earlier, the building was heavily altered during conversion into a dry goods store. The late 18th and early 19th centuries was a very prosperous time for Youghal with substantial physical expansion of the town through reclamation into the river and construction of stores and warehouses on newly created quayside. The beginnings of the Age of Empire and the Napoleonic Wars generated a boom in Irish exports. The castle was readily convertible to suit the need of storage, a purpose it fulfilled since its construction.
It is probable that the extension to the east of the main tower structure was built at this time, along with the limekiln that is recorded on the Griffith’s valuation map of 1841. Apparently, this period was short lived, as Hayman describes it as being in a distressed state in the 1850’s. His internal description would indicate that none of the internal timber features such as the first floor flooring were present. He also makes no mention of the extension to the east. In 1866, the tower house was given a new lease of life when the Tynte family sold the castle with a kitchen garden and yard or curtiliage in the Town of Youghal to William Raymond Fitzmaurice. Large amounts of the Tynte holdings in Ireland were transferred to a William Fitzmaurice at this time. The structure retains some interesting wooden features from this phase of activity that was concerned with the drying of grain. The castle was acquired by the present owners in the 1950’s and remained in use as a dry goods store until recent times.