Memory Lanes: Kinsale

For this instalment of the Memory Lanes series, we will be visiting another well-known town in Ireland that owes its creation to the sea and is now one of the end/start points of the wonderful Wild Atlantic Way.

Kinsale Town

If you ask most people today what they think of when they hear the word Kinsale, they will undoubtedly mention its stunning scenery and superb seafood. Waking up in one of the many guesthouses and hotels in Kinsale on a bright summer’s morning is a moment you will truly treasure for the rest of your life.

If you are the type who loves to get into the swing of things; there are not many golf courses in the world that can offer up as spectacular a setting as that of the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Links. Surrounded on three sides by the almighty Atlantic Ocean, dare you try to get an Under Par Round on this impressive course? Perhaps later that night you might enjoy a meal that will long in the memory at the likes of the Michelin starred Bastion Restaurant or other acclaimed eateries such as Fishy Fishy, Man Friday, Pier One or The Black Pig? Delish! Next time you're looking to play a round of gold or indulge in some decadent food, you'll find all the golf links and restaurants in Kinsale here.

This beautiful coastal town with its warren of lanes and quirky buildings that transports one back to centuries past, is definitely a feast for the senses; be it walking past the yachts at the harbour or walking down one of the multi-coloured side streets to one of the galleries to buy a painting of the same scene.

History of Kinsale

ezgif-com-gif-maker-2021-07-31T123049-992.jpgSituated at the southern tip of the island in the county of Cork, it’s fair to say that the stunning vista of Kinsale was quite the centre of intrigue and bloody battles over the centuries. Walking around this picturesque town today, you could not imagine a more friendly and peaceful setting upon which to enjoy a lunch or leisurely stroll.

One of the places tourists would be likely to visit when taking a trip to Kinsale, is the town’s impressive museum. This five story building originally started life as a marketplace at i’s inception in 1610 and then changed its use to that of a courthouse from 1705. One of the more unusual and fascinating exhibits are the boots worn by one Patrick Cotter O’ Brien.This famous individual was born in the town in 1760 and his claim to fame was being a massive 8 foot 3 inches in height, when the average height for males was 5 foot 4 inches. Patrick became a star attraction of a travelling circus that travelled around London and the surrounding area.It was during its operation as a courthouse that the inquest was held into the sinking of the Ocean Liner The Lusitania, which was sank off the coast of Cork by a German torpedo, with the loss of 1,193 lives. The museum now carries some artefacts from the stricken ship.

It is said that the famous harbour upon which the town resides owes its origins firstly to Vikings of Danish Origin, who began to settle in Ireland from around the time of 795 AD. We then move onto around 1500 when it is said, the impressive – and in part still standing – Desmond Castle was built. Maurice Bacach Desmond, the Earl, originally built it as the Custom House for the town, to ensure boats with goods paid the appropriate taxes upon landing. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, it was used as a prison and housed prisoners from the likes of Spain and France who had failed in their attempts to help the native Irish overthrow British rule.

Kinsale is also well known for the famous battle that took place in 1601. By Dawn in Christmas Eve of that year, a flotilla of 27 Spanish Ships containing 3.400 men in total, landed and began engaging British forces in and around Kinsale. For two years, the Spanish, with Native Irish help, battles the forces of James 1, but in 1603 the commander of the Gallic invaders Juan de Aguila surrendered to Lord Deputy Mountjoy, thus ending one of the most notable skirmishes in Irish history.

Things to see and do in Kinsale

ezgif-com-gif-maker-2021-07-31T123131-619.jpgTwo of the most impressive tourist sites in Kinsale are undoubtedly James and Charles Forts. Following the battle of Kinsale, the British began to beef up its defences in the area and constructed two sizable fortifications, which today are two major tourist attractions James Fort and Charles Fort. Designed by the Military engineer Paul Ive, James Fort was deemed unsatisfactory to meet the defensive needs of the area, so Charles fort was later built.

Designed by the famous Surveyor General Sir William Robinson, who also designed the building that now houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Trinity College and Marshes Library among others. It was later to play a prominent role in both the Williamite Wars and as a staging point for Pro-treaty forces in the Irish civil war.

Another development following the Battle of Kinsale was the granting of licences to build and operate six lighthouses across the country.Among the locations included in a letter of Patent given to Sir Robert Reading by King Charles II on November 13 1665 was the Lighthouse situated at the Old Head of Kinsale. In the centuries since, it has proved to be a godsend to boats heading to Cobh or Cork Harbours.

This impressive structure can be visited on certain occasions; Check out for details of when the next Open Day is happening.

So be it beginning your trek along the Wild Atlantic Way, or enjoying some fabulous seafood with a view to match, why not take a trip down to Kinsale? For a comprehensive list of places to stay and eat in Kinsale – or anywhere in Co. Cork for that matter, download our free location app GeoFindIT here.

Image Sources:
The Journal
Posted: 30/07/2021 21:01:31

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