One of Ireland’s oldest churches to remain in continuous use, St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal, has a great many stories to tell. Now an exciting new immersive visitor experience in the church, ‘Voices of St. Mary’s’, lets visitors hear and see some of those fascinating moments from history.
Visitors can listen to an imaginatively written audio-tour that is part theatre, part tour, bringing visitors on a remarkable journey through time in the company of the fictional Roe family, sharing in their emotional reunion and their conversations about the history of the church and their own family memories of being part of the congregation.
Written and designed in part by historian and St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral parishioner Dr. Alicia St. Leger, the tour emphasises that worship is still at the heart of this wonderful building, as it has been continuously since 1220.
Visitors can also browse the interactive displays, which allow them to explore the past, with fascinating insights into what the church looked like in different periods since Early Christian times. Animated illustrations show the exterior changes to the church over the centuries and video footage of the excavations and discoveries unearthed during the Church’s archaeological dig of 2014 are on display.
Supported by Fáilte Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling and Interpretation scheme, with matched funding from Cork County Council, a total of €252,000 has been invested in this project.
Before the recent end of her term in office, Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley welcomed the addition to the list of attractions in her hometown of Youghal, saying,
St Mary’s Collegiate is the largest and most important medieval building in the town of Youghal. It has international significance and since the early 13th century, it’s been at the heart of the town here. The new approach to interpretation of the site will propel St Mary’s to become a really iconic visitor experience within Ireland’s Ancient East.
Priest-in-charge Canon Andrew Orr said:
We love welcoming visitors to this extraordinary Church. This new interactive experience will attract new tourists and help them to understand not only the history, but that this continues to be a vibrant worshipping congregation up the present day
The service on Sunday morning is at 11.30am and the visitor experience is open 7 days per week, 10am – 4.30pm. (from 12.30pm on Sundays) www.stmaryscollegiateyoughal.ie or telephone 024 25386.