The College was founded in 1464 by the Thomas Fitzgerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, with students arriving within a year. Students would typically have been teenagers, the sons of wealthy nobles and merchants. It was Gerald Fitzgerald, 14th Earl of Desmond who captured the town from the English during the Desmond rebellion in 1579. He ransacked the town and destroyed the town walls during the few weeks he had control of it. One must wonder did he spare a thought for the buildings constructed by his forefathers such as the College.
A papal Bull of Pope Innocent VIII in 1492 refers to the College as University of the City of Youghal”.
After the rebellion, it passed into the hands of Sir Thomas Norris (who may possibly have built Myrtle Grove but Sir Walter Raleigh is widely credited with Myrtle’s construction). When he died, Sir Walter Raleigh acquired it and sold it to Sir Richard Boyle for £1500 in 1602. Boyle rebuilt it as his home, or more correctly, his mansion, then added the five turrents around the house and walls in 1641. Roger Boyle, his son and famed dramatist, was born here. In 1782, major works were carried out which rearranged the layout of much of the building.
Today, the gardens are open to the public during daytime and the impressive town walls dominate the gardens from the higher ground. Splendid views over Youghal are to be had from the top.