Youghal's Ferry Bell

The Youghal Ferry Bell’s African Odyssey


A tale from the past revolves around the Ferry Bell that once adorned the gable end of the Market House at Market Square in Youghal. Its purpose was to signal the departure of the ferryboat from Youghal quayside in County Cork to the Waterford side, crossing the Blackwater River. As time passed, the beloved ferryboats ceased operation, and the once resonant Ferry Bell fell silent.

In a poignant turn of events, the Ferry Bell found a new purpose far away from its original home. No longer needed in Youghal, it embarked on a journey to a Catholic mission in Africa. This transition was marked by a symbolic gesture in the Town Hall of Youghal, where Mr. Bertie Lupton, Chairman of Youghal U.D.C., presented the bell to Rev. V. Kennedy, representing Most Rev. Dr. Arthurs, Bishop of the Diocese of Tanga, Tanzania.

The bell, weighing approximately 1 cwt., became a gift for Father J. Stout’s new church in Kilimanjaro. During the presentation, Fr. Kennedy expressed a profound sentiment, stating that “wherever a bell tolled freely, that country was free.” The donation was attributed to the thoughtful initiative of Messrs. J. Delaney and J. Forrest, President and Vice President of the Legion of Mary.

Gratitude was extended to Very Rev. Canon Sheehan, P.P., whose dedication to the universal church was acknowledged. Canon Sheehan expressed joy in knowing that the tolling of the bell would bring blessings to the people of Youghal even from afar. Originally property of Youghal UDC, the Ferry Bell, which once rang to announce the Council’s launches for Monatrea across the harbour, now resonates with significance in a distant land.

As we reflect on the journey of the Ferry Bell from the gable end of the Market House in Youghal to its new home in Kilimanjaro, there is a poignant reminder of the changing tides of time. However, amid the symbolism and heartfelt gestures, the absence of the ferryboats that once prompted the tolling of the bell leaves a void in the memories of the community.

Looking forward, it becomes a wistful hope that the ferryboats, once cherished and essential for connecting Youghal in County Cork to Waterford, might find a resurgence. The desire for their return is rooted in the wish to revive the tradition of the Ferry Bell announcing departures and arrivals, echoing the days when the harbour was bustling with the comings and goings of boats and passengers.

In the spirit of nostalgia and community, it would be a joyous occasion to witness the return of the ferryboats, rekindling the link between Cork and Waterford. The Ferry Bell, with its newfound purpose in Kilimanjaro, could then serve as a beacon of continuity, bridging the past and the potential future, bringing people together once more across the Blackwater River.

Researched by Michael Hussey

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