Wayne Ruxton, Tour Guide and St Mary’s Administrator at the opening of the new interactive Voices of St Mary’s visitor experience at St Marys’ Collegiate Church in Youghal. Photos: John Hennessy

Hear the voices of St Mary's

A new interactive visitor experience has been unveiled at one of Ireland’s oldest churches.

St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal has launched Voices of St Mary’s which uses a variety of interpretative media to invite visitors to engage with and explore the meaning and significance of this important national monument in East Cork.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley welcomed the addition to the list of attractions in her hometown of Youghal: “St Mary’s Collegiate is the largest and most important medieval building in the town and one of the largest churches in the country. 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 and bodes well for an economic boost for the region.”

Building on the existing guided offering, new media and technology has been used to enhance the visitor experience, with a new self-guided, multi-lingual system. Interactive touchscreens allow visitors 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.

CI Body Text First Para OffLead: The audio-tour 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.

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.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley and Mary Houlihan from Fáilte Ireland at the opening Photo by John Hennessy

Mary Houlihan, Manager Ireland’s Ancient East highlighted how Ireland’s Ancient East is home to some of the Europe’s most remarkable built heritage including tombs older than the pyramids, historic castles, ruined abbeys and cultural sites like St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal.

“After an incredibly challenging year for tourism, the new interpretive Voices of St Mary’s Collegiate Church, supported through Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling and Interpretation Scheme, will enhance the tourism appeal of Youghal, and its surrounds, by offering visitors a unique and immersive experience that will attract visitors for many years to come,” she said.

Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, thanked Fáilte Ireland for their support.

See stmaryscollegiateyoughal.ie.