Kinsale can easily claim its place amongst Ireland's most historic locations for this has been a centre of population, commerce, trade and fishing far beyond memory and record. In its earliest days the estuary of the Bandon River gave it great importance as the river is tidal as far as Innishannon and water transport was dominant until the 18th Century. The estuary also provided excellent anchorage for ancient shipping which went in peril of the vagaries of the weather.
Kinsale town nestles between the hills and the shoreline, a maze of narrow streets, never far from the water and little changed in many hundreds of years. Amongst buildings of later periods are those of another age with historical links to the French, Spanish, British and Americans.
The Battle of Kinsale, fought in 1601 between a combined Spanish, an Irish force and English armies, was a turning point in Irish history. The harbour is guarded by two very fine star-shaped fortresses built in the 17th century: Charles Fort is well worth a visit (guided tours).
See also the old Courthouse, now a museum; St Multose Church, built in the 13th century and still in use, and 'French Prison', the 16th century Desmond Castle. There is a signposted tourist trail to this fascinating town with a guide booklet. Take a trip too to the Old Head of Kinsale for magnificent cliff scenery. It was off here that the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 with a loss of over 1,500 lives.
Today Kinsale is a busy town for locals and tourists alike. Walking around the town of Kinsale you can enjoy browsing in its many shops, for gifts, crafts, paintings, locally designed fashions, art galleries, book shops or take time out in one of its many lovely cafe's for coffee and cakes. Winding along the many little streets in Kinsale, is a delight. Stop off and enjoy Kinsale's Harbour views once you have visited Charles Fort, and down town stop at the water front and enjoy the marina activity.
There are many guided tours around Kinsale and little walks to explore around the Kinsale area including a visit to Sandycove, just a short drive from Kinsale town where you can enjoy a visit to James Fort and the fantastic views it offers or sit and enjoy its little beach nearby. Take a stroll along the Scilly Walk which can go from Charles Fort all the way into Kinsale town or start middle way in the walk a little way after the Bulman Pub and enjoy.
Garretstown and Garrylucas are the Blue Flag Beaches close by to Kinsale if you are looking for a dip in Irish waters. Ballinspittle is the next village over from Kinsale which you can take a drive to and take a walk in Garrettstown Woods afterwards. Why not hire a boat and enjoy the waters around Kinsale for experience Whale watching and maybe some basking sharks, or just enjoy some angling on board, where on some boats rods and tackle are supplied, with the waters out from Kinsale onto the Atlantic being popular for pollack, mackeral and cod.
Something for the entire family to enjoy is all the water based activities at the Oysterhaven Centre, which is tucked away in its own safe little bay perfect to enjoy tuition on windsurfing, sailing and kayaking, or just hire the equipment and head to the water. The evening can be spent enjoying a meal in one of the many excellent well know restaurants and relaxing with a drink in one of its many pubs.
Kinsale town is very accessible just 30 minutes from Cork Airport you can be taking in the water views in no time, walking the Scily Way and over to the Old Head of Kinsale, exploring the narrow streets, visiting the art galleries, exploring the Sandycove area, with its beach and bay areas, taking in the views from Charles Fort, visiting the craft shops or simply enjoying a gourmet meal in one of Kinsale's many restaurants. Within easy reach of Kinsale are Ballinspittle, Timoleague and Courtmacsherry, Inishannon and Bandon, local towns and villages.