Explore Kinsale - Kinsale
Kinsale is a historic fishing port and fishing town, in County Cork in the south west of Ireland. It has a long and interesting history, as well as an important military history. There are influences of Norman, Spanish and English throughout the town, evident in the Georgian houses and the Dutch architecture. It is one of Irelands oldest and most picturesque towns and is a mecca for tourists, who are enthralled by its beautiful setting.
This charming town is home to beautiful buildings, brightly painted cottages, a maze of narrow streets, traditional bars, restaurants, unique shops and galleries. Visitors will delight in all the town has to offer with an abundance of heritage, history and plenty of activities on both land and sea. There is a sign posted tourist trail that allows visitors to delve into the towns history and takes in many of the attractions. There are also guided walking tours available, they are taken by local experienced guides who explain the history of the town and area which is interspersed with stories and anecdotes, highly informative and interesting.
Watersports are bountiful here, from kayaking around the Kinsale coast to scuba diving adventures. Sailing and yachting are also popular as are sea angling or fishing. Or perhaps take a coastal cruise trip and admire the town from a different angle, see the seals and dolphins in their natural habitat, and all the sea birds whose home is here. On land activities include, golf, horse riding, biking, walking tours, ghost tours and lots more.
The first indications of the towns history are Charles Fort and James Fort which are located at either side of the narrow entrance from the sea. Charles Fort is a 17th century star shaped fort and its design itself is unique, it was built during the reign of King Charles II to protect the town and harbour. It is one of the biggest military forts in the country and has associations with some of the most momentous events in Irish history. It remained garrisoned by the British army until 1922 when it was returned to Ireland following the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Visitors can take guided tours and it has the most fantastic views. James Fort is an early 17th century pentagonal fort, its purpose was to defend the harbour and seaborne approaches of the town, although it ceased to be used in the 18th century and by the 19th century fell into ruins. It is a prime example of 17th century military architecture and offers fabulous views of the town, river, harbour and Charles Fort.
The old Courthouse was a market house that dates back to about 1600 with further additions in 1706. It was at that courthouse that the inquest into the sinking of the liner the Lusitania was heard in May 1915. It has some unusual and interesting architectural features, it is now a museum and houses a large collection of local artifacts pertaining to Kinsale's maritime, military and secular history. St Multose Church was constructed in the 13th century and is still being used today. Desmond Castle dates to the 16th century, it is an excellent example of an urban tower house, comprising of a three storey keep with storehouses to the back. It was originally built as a Customs house but served as a prison in the 18th century and is known as the "French Prison", it also served as a workhouse during the Great Famine, today it is home to the international museum of wine.
Walking around the town visitors can enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, discover what delights the narrow winding streets hold, and take time to browse around the many shops that sell a wonderful selection of gifts, crafts, paintings, locally designed fashions, book shops and art galleries. Enjoy the activity around the marina and watch the boats coming and going. Stop in one of the many delightful cafes and coffee shops where visitors can get a decadent treat.
Just west of the town is Old Head, this is a large headland that protrudes out into the swirling Atlantic and provides some of the most amazing coastal walks in Ireland. Awaiting visitors is spectacular cliff scenery, ruined forts, lighthouses and tales of shipwrecks. It was here that the Lusitania sunk in 1915 resulting in over 1,500 lives lost.
The medieval town of Kinsale is well known for its gourmet food, and is also referred to as "Ireland's Fine Food Capital", or the "Gourmet Capital of Ireland". It has a wonderful selection of quality restaurants and plenty of cafes, bistros and pubs catering to all tastes and budgets. Food is sourced from local produce assuring quality and fresh ingredients in the dishes seen on the menus here.
Kinsale is a lively and bustling centre for many major events and festivals throughout the year including, Kinsale Arts Week, Kinsale Regatta and Kinsale Gourmet Festival to name a few. There is nearly always something taking place here.