Since 1275, this site has had a tower on it, watching over the entrance and exit to the town and serving as a symbol of the importance of the town and the dominance of the English settlers. Originally, the Iron Gate, it later became Trinity Gate and in 1777, the current structure of the Clock Gate was built.
It was used as a prison during the rebellion of 1798, and a pole lashed from the lower windows to the corner of the first house on South Main Street (now Luigi’s) was used for hangings.
Thomas Gallagher was one of those hanged for trying to seduce a soldier from allegiance to his regiment. Numerous forms of torture were conducted therein including thumb screws, pitch-cap, rack and the lime boot and flogging. The Clock Gate served the town as gaol and public gallows until 1837 when it was considered “defective in several of the accommodations essential to the health of prisoners”. It then became a family home until 1959 when the last family left.
The steps immediately adjacent to the Clock Gate could have been the scene of many a public flogging, while Barry’s Lane (the town square towards the quay side of the clock gate) could have seen public humiliation of thieves and robbers, locked in stocks for the day. It is likely that the Witch of Youghal would have been first interrogated here and could have suffered water-torture at the quays and other painful tortures at the Clock Gate while awaiting transport to Cork for trial.