Kinsale is situated in the estuary of the river Bandon, nestling among hills that hide it from the open sea. Because of its location it is an historic port and is still very popular with pleasure sailors and anglers.
Two forts, James Fort and Charles Fort, guard the approach to the sea. The Siege of Kinsale, one of the most significant battles in Irish history, took place here in 1601. It was fought when an Irish army had travelled from Ulster to relieve an English siege on the town that was held by the Spanish and Gaelic Irish. Against the odds the Irish and English besiegers lost the battle, but the siege continued and the Spanish ultimately surrendered weeks later. Many of the Gaelic lords fled to continental Europe, hoping to raise an army and return, but the English consolidated their power preventing a reconquest. This marked the end of the ancient Gaelic social order in Ireland and was also one of the final battles in the Anglo-Spanish war.
In addition to its visual charms, Kinsale has become a home of good food, especially seafood, and holds an annual festival to celebrate.
If you have not already rented a car for your trip, the easiest way to get to Kinsale is via taxi, or by bus.
Taxis await in a line ("queue") just outside the front entrance to the terminal at Cork Airport, and are always present. Count on spending €25-30 for the 30 minute drive.
Bus Éireann run buses to and from Kinsale hourly every day. The 226 bus service runs from the bus station in Cork City to Kinsale via Cork Airport. View the timetable here. The 226A services Cork Airport only.
- From Cork city, take the N27 towards Cork Airport, then take the R600 to Kinsale.
- From Bandon, take the N71 towards Inishannon, then take the R605 to Kinsale.
There are two taxi companies operating in Kinsale:
- Kinsale cabs, Market Square, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours daily.
- Cabs 3000, Pearse St, ☏ .
Kinasle is a small town and it is easy to walk around.
- 1 Charles Fort, Summercove (Half a mile south of town in Summercove), ☏ . This is a 17th century star shaped fort, which is very well preserved and has seen very little military action. 45 minute tours depart every hour, last entry 45 min before closing. Open mid Mar-Oct daily 10:00-18:00, rest of year 10:00-17:00. €5.
- 2 Desmond Castle, Cork St, ☏ . Built c. 1500 by the Earl of Desmond as a custom house, this is a well-preserved tower house. The Castle is known locally as the French Prison following a fire in which 54 French prisoners died in 1747. The building was later used as an ancillary workhouse during the Famine. Admission €2.90, covered by Heritage Card, open Apr-Oct daily 10:00-18:00, last entry 17:15, tours given on request, closed Nov-mid Apr.
- 3 James Fort (2 mi south of town on Pier Road. On the west shore of the bay). This is an older fort on the other side of the river and in much poorer condition.
- 4 Kinsale Regional Museum, Market Square, ☏ . M-Sa 10:30-17:30, Su 14:00-17:30. An interesting small museum with exhibits on domestic and maritime history, including the ocean liner Lusitania which was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in World War I (the Great War). €3.50.
- Sailing, Blue Flag marina, at Castlepark just outside the town, has public boat ramps and docks. Both crewed cruising yachts and small recreational sailboats are available.
- Kinsale Harbour Cruises, ☏ . Adults €12, children under 12 €5, children under 7 free.
- Sea Angling / Whale & Dolphin Watching, ☏ . Full day, half day and evening trips for groups large and small.
- 1 Tourist Information Office, Pier Rd (Near the main bus stop at the head of the harbor), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Giving free maps & brochures, open Jul-Aug M-Sa 09:15-19:00, Su 10:00-17:00; Mar-Jun & Sep-Nov M-Sa 09:30-17:30, closed Su; shorter hours Dec-Feb.
- 2 Ghost Tour, Tap Tavern, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. May-Sep Su-F 21:00. A slapstick-style horror tour of Kinsale. 90 min. Leaves from the Tap Tavern. Adults €10, children €5.
- 3 Historic Stroll in Old Kinsale, Tourist Office, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. 11:15 daily. An engaging and fun tour of the town's history. Leaves from the Tourist Office. 90 min. €8, Children €1.
- 4 Dermot Ryan's Heritage Town Walk, ☏ , . 10:30. Leaves tourist office daily. Adults €5, children free.
- Kinsale Road Train. Tour Kinsale on the Road Train. Bus stop to Charles Fort.
- Kinsale Crystal, Market St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A charming crystal shop specialising in deep cut lead crystal. The founder was originally with Waterford Crystal before setting up Kinsale Crystal. Several items are available for purchase on their website.
- 1 Kinsale Silver, Market St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Handmade silver jewellery with Celtic themes. The proprietor, Dominic Dolan is very personable.
Kinsale is a gourmet centre with many restaurants for all prices and tastes.
- 1 Man Friday, Scilly, ☏ . 19:30-22.30. Famous for its Steaks, Seafood and their Stuffed Duck served in a nice restaurant with a good atmosphere. Range from €20-€35.
- 2 Fishy Fishy Cafe, Pier Rd, ☏ . Open daily 12:00-16:30. Big with spacious indoor, balcony and terrace seating. Phone for reservations.
- 3 Cafe Blue, Pearse St (in Blue Haven Hotel). Open daily.
- 4 Mother Hubbard's, Near market square. Open daily. Sandwiches, baguettes, salads & coffee.
- 5 The Little Skillet, 47 Main St, ☏ . Romantic atmosphere, Irish music, much fresh vegetables, €20 entrees, €25 3 course early-bird meal before 19:30, open daily 12:00-14:30 & 18:00-22:30.
- 6 Hoby's Restaurant, 5 Main St, ☏ . 18:00-22:00. Romantic, quiet, & candlelit, €25 3 course dinners.
- 7 Max' Wine Bar, 48 Main St, ☏ . International food, fancy interior & presentation, lunch from 12:30, dinner from 18:30, closed Tuesday, €22 3 course early bird special before 19:30.
- 8 Jim Edward's, Market Quay, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Bar 12:30-22:00, Restaurant 18:00-22:00. A crowded local favorite with €20-30 dinner only meals in romantic area, or €12-19 meals in the bar, steaks, seafood, & vegetables, cheaper than other restaurants.
- 9 Cobra Tandoori, 69 Main St, ☏ . 16:30-23:30. One of many ethnic restaurants, this one serves Indian food, €10 plates.
- 10 The Bulman, Summercove (200 yards towards Kinsale from Charles Fort in Hamlet of Summercove), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 12:30-21:30. Seafood & seasonal produce, €10 lunches, €22-26 meals in fancy restaurant upstairs.
Kinsale's many pubs have a lively atmosphere, all near the center of town:
- 1 The Bulman, Summercove (200 yards towards Kinsale from Charles Fort in Hamlet of Summercove), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Has great music sessions Tu Th Su 21:30, folk session W 21:30, get there a half hour early to ensure a seat.
- 2 Spaniard Inn, ☏ . A ten minute walk from town out onto the Scilly Peninsula, music W 21:30, arrive an hour before to ensure a seat.
- 3 The Folk House (On Guardwell, which is off the end of Main Street as you walk away from the sea), ☏ . Two real ale pumps. Yes, real ale in Ireland. Usually one available depending on supplier like Hobgoblin or Pride. Howling Gale, Speckled Hen etc. on keg. Music at the weekend.
- 4 The Grey Hound (On Market Square by the town museum), ☏ . A proper old Irish pub established in 1690 with a very mixed crowd from rugby/hurling fans to hippies. Tables outside, umbrellas and heaters for smokers. Usually sport on TV and a good selection of music if not.
- 5 The Tap Tavern (Below Saint Multose Church). Has music on Thursday nights.
- 1 Actons of Kinsale, Pier Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Newly renovated and reopened hotel overlooking Kinsale Harbour.
- 2 Trident Hotel, World's End, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 66 rooms, harbor views, restaurant and bar. €35-€100.
- 3 The Old Presbytery, 43 Cork St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 10 rooms, goofy floor plan, nice lounge, quiet, fine breakfast. Double €110, bigger double €150, biggest double €170, family quadruple €180, 2 quadruple suites with no breakfast €170, free wi-fi and internet access, private parking.
- 4 Friar's Lodge, Friar St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. New & modern on a hill with 18 rooms, single €80, double €90-130, triple €150-160, quadruple €190, wi-fi, private parking.
- Chart House B&B, 6 Dennis Quay, ☏ , fax: . A Georgian hotel with 1 single, 4 doubles, non-smoking, quiet, high ceilings, chandeliers, great lounge, a block from the harbor, single €40-45, double €120, deluxe double €170, 10% discount when paid with cash, easy parking.
- O'Donovan's B&B, 8 Guardwell St, ☏ . In a 400-year-old building, quiet, non-smoking, friendly, in the medieval center, single w/no bathroom €45-50, double w/no bathroom €70, double w/bathroom €75.
- 5 The Olde Bakery B&B, 56 Lower O’Connell St, ☏ . Six quilt bedded rooms, 2 friendly dogs, cozy breakfast, cash only, non-smoking, laundry service available, double w/no bathroom €70, double w/bathroom €80.
- The Sea Gull, Cork St, ☏ . On a hill next to Desmond Castle, cash only, six rooms, single w/no bathroom €35-40, double w/bathroom €70, triple w/bathroom €95.
- Guardwell Lodge, Guardwell St, ☏ , fax: . A great budget hotel, with 44 rooms on top of a hill, but stark and somewhat prison-like, but modern and comfortable. Almost like a hostel, but isn't, no breakfast, all bedding provided, TV lounge, fully equipped self-service kitchen, quiet rooms are on the church side. €17 beds in 4-bed dorms, single €30, twin double €55, double with large bed €60, triple €60.
- 6 Jos Cafe & Rooms (Kinsale Arms Guesthouse), 55 Main St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Rooms are En-Suite with complementary Wi-Fi. €45-€50 per room.
- There are a number of excellent Blue Flag beaches in the area. Both Garretstown and Garrylucas (White Strand) beaches are just over 8km from Kinsale and can be reached by following the R600 to Ballinspittle village. Garretstown beach in particular is renowned for its surf and equipment is available to rent on the beach.
- The charming, but not-as-charming-as-Kinsale town of Cobh is reached by first driving and then taking a poorly signposted ferry to the island it's on, make sure you don't accidentally take the ferry that goes to France instead. It can also be reached by road via Cork city.
- The ever-famous castle at Blarney is also less than an hour away.