Hundreds of years of Norman, Spanish, and English cultural
influences have created a town that revolves around fine food and sailing. Kinsale is not a place to get an early
breakfast. It is a place to slow down,
sleep in, spend a day at sea, and come to shore decked out for dinner and
drinks. Or cozy up at a B&B and
spend your day soaking up the array of art and culture.
What to See and Do
Hear music, see live theater, and absorb art during Kinsale
Arts Week, a boutique festival during July.
Walk along the quay to Charles Fort, a National Heritage Site. Charter a yacht. Buy a yacht and join the Kinsale Yacht
Club. Wander the many fine art
galleries. Sign up for an art
appreciation course at the Further Education College. Pick up some Irish throwing and sculpting
skills at the Kinsale Pottery and Art School; they host weekend two-day
workshops for amateurs or those wanting to further develop their techniques. Visit Desmond Castle and the International
Wine Museum. Golf at the Old Head Golf
Links, located on the picturesque point.
Swim at The Dock Beach, Sandycove, or Garretstown – or build a sand
castle. Browse the local Farmer’s
Market, on Market Quay Tuesdays 11AM to 1PM.
Where to Eat and
Quay Food Co. is a specialty food shop on Market Quay, run
by David and Laura Peare. The have a
wild selection of local, Irish farmhouse cheese as well as olives and homemade
pates. I bought a wedge of Gubbeen
cheese, made in West Cork; it also comes in a smoked variety - very tasty on
spelt bread sandwiches. Find all the
fine Irish chocolates here, too: Cocoa Bean, Skelligs, and Gallweys of
Waterford. They also prepare fresh
sandwiches to go, such as the goat’s cheese and sundried tomato with pesto
mouth-watering type, my personal favorite combo. Pick out gourmet rolls and illy coffee to go,
for a breakfast on the waterfront.
Picnics and hampers prepared upon request. Web: www.quayfood.com.
For supreme coffees and homemade pastries, there’s Lazy
Jack’s café and bistro. Relax in a comfy
leather chair in a bright room surrounded by exquisite sketches. Nice place to chill on a rainy day. Dinners are such comfort food as potato skins
loaded with fresh toppings or a big beef chili bowl.
E. Kirby 66 is an Italian-inspired café tucked away on Lower
O’Connell Street, open daily from 9AM – 5PM.
Jola’s, also on Lower O’Connell Street, is eastern-European
cuisine in dramatic setting of velvet pillows, stonewalls, and a chandelier
dropping from the high ceiling. It all
suggests luxury, for a modest price.
Where to Sleep
Cucina is a new place on Market Street with loads of
Continental charm. Eat, Drink, and
Sleepover: www.cucina.ie. Also a nice spot to meet for afternoon
The Blue Haven is a boutique-style hotel in the heart of
town, with the Hamlet’s Café & Bar next door: www.bluehavenkinsale.com.
The Friar’s Lodge is a four-star guesthouse up the hill: www.friars-lodge.com.
The Trident Hotel is for sea-lovers, with a prime location
by the pier: www.tridenthotel.com.
The White Lady Hotel is a luxury B&B with adjoining fine
How to get there
From Cork, take N71 south to Halfway, transfer to R607 south
From Skibbereen, take N71 east to Clonakilty, transfer to
R600 east to Kinsale.
website for all current travel details and restrictions.
When to go
From April to October, when the days are longer and the sun
comes out. St. Patrick’s Day
parade. Rugby 7’s Festival is during the
May Bank Holiday Weekend. Kinsale Sevens
by the Sea in early May. Kinsale Point
to Point Horse Races at Fort Arthur in June.
Lee Delta Blues Festival is during the June Bank Holiday Weekend. Sovereign’s Cup at end of June. Kinsale Arts Week the second week of
July. King of the Hill Triathlon at end
of July. Kinsale Regatta and Beach
Volleyball Festival in early August.
National Dragon Championship third week in August. National Heritage Week at Charles Fort
National Monument at the end of August/early September. Kinsale Karnival is family fun in
September. Kinsale Gourmet Festival in
October. Kinsale Fringe Jazz Festival is
during the October Bank Holiday Weekend.
I had fun here, although it is not a place for a budget
traveler. There is a funky hostel option
on the edge town, but it wasn’t up to our standards. We had trouble finding affordable
accommodations. So we cruised the city
by day, attending Kinsale Arts Week, a youthful festival full of vitality and
fun, and tasted some nibbles of the gourmet food. No camping in the vicinity.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007