Clifford Winser was born in Carlisle, Cumberland in 1944. He visited Youghal many times on childhood holidays with his father. In 1969, as a 29 year old young man, he decided to come back for a month. He never left. “I love the history of the place, it’s so rich, vivid and exciting. The easy tranquillity of Youghal is also one of favourite things about it.” Tranquillity is something that is easy to come by for Cliff who, when asked if he was married, replied “Certainly not! Why buy a book when there are libraries!”
Cliff has been the Youghal Town Crier for 30 years. He has immersed himself in the history of the town and it’s telling. He began by playing the role of Sir Walter Raleigh at local events. Walter Raleigh of course, was gifted 42,000 acres of land (including Youghal) by Elizabeth I for his work in quashing a rebellion by the Desmonds of Munster in 1579. His colourful life eventually led to his beheading in 1618 by order of James I and, with two chops of an axe, it was all over. Not so for Cliff, thankfully. If being an iconic figure of historical reference around the town and a representative of it further afield wasn’t enough, he also served in the Coastguard for 35 years.
Along with playing the part of Walter Raleigh, Cliff decided to take on the role of Town Crier. He has been doing that now for 30 years and said “In 2014, I was invited to the World Town Criers Guild Championships in Chester. At a banquet on the Saturday evening, the awards were being announced and people had to go to the podium to receive them. Rules stipulate that you must be in full dress costume. I had no notion my name would be called and was lounging happily at my table in a waistcoat taking it all in. Next thing, I heard them announce my name as coming 2nd in the category of those up for an award for the promotion of their town. The camaraderie was great amongst the crowd and there were several attempting to dress me properly as I made my way to the stage in a daze! Within 15 minutes of the announcement, my phone was hopping with messages of enquiries about Youghal. I will continue to promote Youghal, whenever and wherever I can.”
To that end, Cliff also conducts guided historical walks in the town. “I’m trying to cover 2,000 years of history in one and half hours, so no two tours are the same. There are so many anecdotes and tales to tell that it really just depends on the day, but you’d certainly not be lost for something to talk about, look at, or discover in a town like Youghal.”