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Irish: Cionn tSáile
County Cork
Kinsale (4693044621).jpg
Grid reference: W637506
Location: 51°42’27"N, 8°31’50"W
Population: 5,281  (2016)
Post town: Kinsale
Postcode: P17
Local Government
Cork South-West

Kinsale is a historic port and fishing town in the East Riding of County Cork which also has significant military history. Located some 15 miles south of Cork on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and had a population of 5,281 at the 2016 census,[1] which increases substantially during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak and when the boating fraternity and other tourist visitors arrive in large numbers.

Kinsale is a popular holiday resort for Irish and overseas tourists.[2] Leisure activities include yachting, sea angling, and golf. The town also has several art galleries and a school of English. The town is compact with a quaint air of antiquity in the narrow streets. There is a large yachting marina close to the town centre.

The town is known for its restaurants, and holds an annual "Gourmet Festival". Chef Keith Floyd was previously a resident of Kinsale.[3]

The town's Community School has been awarded the "Best School in the Republic of Ireland" twice, including at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2014.[4]

Prominent historical buildings in the town include St Multose's church (Church of Ireland) of 1190, St John the Baptist (Catholic) of 1839, the Market House of c. 1600 and the so-called French Prison (or Desmond Castle after the Earls of Desmond, prominent in the history of Munster) of c. 1500. Charles Fort, a partly restored star fort of 1677, is in nearby Summercove.[5]

On 8 October 2005, Kinsale became Ireland's second Fair Trade Town, with Clonakilty being the first.


Kinsale is known for its historic streetscape and brightly coloured shops.
On the quayside
Market House (circa 1600)

In 1333, under a charter granted by King Edward III, the Corporation of Kinsale was established to undertake local government in the town.[6] It returned two members to the Irish House of Commons prior to its abolition in 1800.

In its history, Kinsale has also important occasional links with Spain. In 1518 Archduke Ferdinand, later Emperor Ferdinand I, paid an unscheduled visit to the town, during which one of his staff wrote a remarkable account of its inhabitants.[7][8] In 1601 a Spanish military expedition - the last of the Armadas launched against England - landed in Kinsale in order to link with Irish rebel forces and attack England through Ireland. As a result, the battle of Kinsale took place at the end of the Nine Years' War in which English forces led by Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy defeated the rebel Irish force, led by the princes Hugh Roe O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neill, which was allied with forces of the Spanish empire of Philip III of Spain and Portugal.[9] Following this battle the Flight of the Earls occurred in which a number of the native Irish aristocrats, including the Earls of Tyrone and Tir Conaill, abandoned their lands and fled to mainland Europe. Shortly after the battle, James's Fort was built to protect the harbour.

In 1649 Prince Rupert of the Rhine declared Charles II king of England, Scotland and Ireland at St Multose Church in Kinsale upon hearing of the execution of Charles I in London by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War.[10]

Charles Fort, located at Summer Cove and dating from 1677 in the reign of Charles II, is a bastion-fort that guards the entrance to Kinsale harbour. It was built to protect the area and specifically the harbour from use by the French and Spanish in the event of a landing in Ireland. James's Fort, which dates from the reign of James I, is located on the other side of the cove, on the Castlepark peninsula. An underwater chain used to be strung between the two forts across the harbour mouth during times of war to scuttle enemy shipping by ripping the bottoms out of incoming vessels.

King James II landed at Kinsale in March 1689 with a force of 2,500 men,[11] raised with the support of King Louis XIV, as part of his campaign to regain power in England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1690, James II returned to exile in France from Kinsale, following his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne by William III (also Stadtholder William III of the House of Orange-Nassau) after the Glorious Revolution (or Revolution of 1688) in England against the background of wars involving France under King Louis XIV.

From 1694 Kinsale served as a supply base for Royal Navy vessels in southern Ireland, and a number of storehouses were built; it was limited to smaller vessels, however, due to the sandbar at the mouth of the river.[12] Navigator and privateer Captain Woodes Roger mentions Kinsale in the memoir of his 1708 expedition from Cork; in particular he mentions a pair of rocks known as 'the Sovereigne's Bollacks' on which his ship almost ran aground.[13][14] Kinsale's naval significance declined after the Royal Navy moved its victualling centre from Kinsale to Cork harbour in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars in the period of France's First Empire.

When the ocean liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a U-boat of the German Empire on 7 May 1915 on a voyage from New York to Liverpool during the First World War, some of the bodies and survivors were brought to Kinsale and the subsequent inquest on the bodies recovered was held in the town's courthouse.[15] A statue in the harbour commemorates the effort. The Lusitania memorial is at Casement Square in Cobh, to the east of Cork city.

Kinsale was linked by a branch line via Farrangalway and Ballymartle to the railway system of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway and its successors from 1863 until 1931, when the branch was closed by the Great Southern Railways during a low point in Kinsale's economic fortunes. The station, inconveniently located for the town and harbour, was on Barrack Hill and the line ran to a junction at Crossbarry on the Cork (Albert Quay) to Bandon line.[16]


Buses regularly operate from Kinsale to Cork, with most of these stopping at Cork Airport on the way. Kinsale and Bandon are linked by public transport with a bus service provided by East Cork Rural Transport.

The Archdeacon Duggan Bridge on the R600 road to the south-west of the town was opened in March 1977, named after Father Tom Duggan MC OBE and latterly a staunch nationalist and a missionary priest in Peru. This bridge replaced an older cast iron structure of the early 1880s which was located approximately 3km upstream on the River Bandon, near Tisaxon More.

Sports and community groups

The Saile sports and leisure centre is situated opposite the Kinsale Community School overlooking the Bandon River.[17]

Kinsale Yacht Club began in 1950 and today has become a lively sailing club with events for all ages of sailor and social activities throughout the year. Junior sailing includes Optimists, Lasers and 420s. The yacht classes include Squib (keelboat), International Dragon (keelboat) and A-Class Catamaran as well as three Cruiser Classes (Class I, II and III).[18]

Kinsale Rugby Football Club was formed in 1982 and compete in the Munster Junior league.[19]

The Kinsale GAA club plays in the Carrigdhoun division of Cork GAA.[20] They won the Cork Football Intermediate County Championship in 2011, the first time since 1915.

Kinsale Badminton club is affiliated with Badminton Ireland.[21] It is based in St Multose Hall in Kinsale. It caters for both adult and juvenile players and enters teams in Cork county Leagues and Cups.


Kinsale hosts an annual jazz festival, which takes place during the last weekend of October. Many pubs and hotels in the town host concerts by jazz and blues groups throughout the weekend, including Monday (which is a bank holiday in Ireland).[22][23]

People from or associated with Kinsale

  • Fiachra Ó Corragáin (b. 1991) BA(Hons), DipABRSM, PhD; harper, musician, composer; born and lives in Kinsale.
  • Achilles Daunt (1832–1878), Church of Ireland clergyman; born in Kinsale
  • Aidan Higgins (1927-2015), poet; lived in Kinsale
  • Aisling Judge (b. 1991), Scientist; Winner of The Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Born in Kinsale
  • Anne Bonny (1702–1782), female pirate; born near Kinsale
  • Arthur O'Connor (1763–1852), President of the Society of United Irishmen and a General in Napoleon's armies; lived near Kinsale
  • Ciara Judg] (b. 1998), Scientist; The 2014 Grand Prize Winners of the Google Science Fair. Born in Kinsale
  • Conor Fallon (1939–2007), sculptor and son of Padraic; lived in Kinsale
  • Cormac Ó Cadhlaigh (1884–1960), Celticist; born in Kinsale
  • Derek Mahon (b. 1941), Northern Irish poet; lives in Kinsale
  • Desmond O'Grady (1935–2014), poet; lives in Kinsale
  • Eamonn O'Neill (1882-1954) Kinsale businessman and politician
  • Edward Bowen (1780–1866), Canadian judge and lawyer; born in Kinsale
  • Eileen Desmond (1932–2005), TD, Senator, MEP, and Government Minister; born in Kinsale
  • Finbar Wright (b. 1957), tenor; born near Kinsale
  • Gervais Parker (1695–1750), British Army officer; Governor of Kinsale
  • Jack Barrett (1910–1979), All-Ireland winning hurler; born in Kinsale
  • James Dennis, 1st Baron Tracton (1721–1782), Irish judge and politician; born near Kinsale
  • John Duncan Craig (1830–1909), poet and Church of Ireland clergyman; lived in Kinsale
  • John Edward Kelly (1840–1884), Protestant Nationalist and Fenian; born in Kinsale
  • John Fergus O'Hea (c. 1838–1922); political cartoonist AKA "Spex"; born in Kinsale
  • John Folliot (1691–1762), British Army officer; Lieutenant-Governor of Kinsale
  • John Handcock (1755–1786), British Army officer; Lieutenant-Governor of Kinsale
  • John Sullivan (1830-1884), recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • John William Fenton (1828–1890), musician; born in Kinsale
  • Joseph Ward (1832–1872), British soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross; born in Kinsale
  • Keith Floyd (1943–2009), Chef; lived near Kinsale
  • Lennox Robinson (1886–1958), poet and dramatist; lived in Kinsale
  • Margaret Barrington (1896–1982), writer and journalist; lived in Kinsale
  • Moira Deady (1922–2010), actress; lived in Kinsale
  • Mortimer (c. 1878–1967) and Timothy McCarthy (1888–1917), Antarctic explorers on Scott's 1911 expedition; born in Kinsale
  • Nancy Wynne-Jones (1922–2006), painter; lived in Kinsale
  • Paddy Collins (1903–1995), All-Ireland winning Hurler; born in Kinsale
  • Padraic Fallon (1905–1974), poet; lived in Kinsale
  • Patrick Cotter O'Brien (1760–1806), first man verified to have reached over 8 feet in height; born in Kinsale
  • Peter McDermott (1918–2011), All-Ireland winning footballer for County Meath; born near Kinsale
  • Ray Cummins (b. 1948), All-Ireland winning Hurler; lives in Kinsale
  • Rev. Patrick MacSwiney (1885-1940), Catholic curate in Kinsale 1927-1940, founder of the Kinsale Museum, Vocational School, Development Association, Fisheries Association, National Monuments Committee, Kinsale Historical Society
  • Robert Gibbings (1889–1958), artist and author; lived in Kinsale
  • Ron Holland (b. 1947), yacht designer; lives in Kinsale
  • SEARLS, (b. 1991) Songwriter and West End leading male; born in Kinsale
  • Sir Robert Southwel (1635–1702), diplomat, Secretary of State for Ireland and President of the Royal Society; born near Kinsale
  • Sister Mary Francis] (Joanna Bridgeman) (1813–1888), nun and nursing pioneer; lived in Kinsale
  • Sister Mary Scholastica (Geraldine Gibbons) (c. 1817–1901), founder of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, born in Kinsale
  • Thomas Johnson (1872–1963), first leader of the Irish Labour Party in Dáil Éireann; lived in Kinsale
  • Timothy O'Keeffe (1926–1994), publisher who worked with Flann O'Brien; born in Kinsale
  • William Penn (1644–1718), founder of the State of Pennsylvania; was Clerk of the Admiralty Court in Kinsale


  2. "On Census Day, April 23rd 2006". Ireland News: Top Story. Irish Times. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2009.  Irish Times 1 July 2008
  3. Davenport, F.; Charlotte, Beech; Downs, T; Hannigan, D; Parnell, F; Wilson, N (2006). Lonely Planet Ireland. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 1-74059-968-3. 
  4. "School scoops nine science gongs -". 
  5. "Historical Kinsale - Kinsale Chamber of Tourism & Business". 
  6. Appendix to the First Report ...: Southern, midland, western and south ... - Great Britain. Commissioners on Municipal Corporations in Ireland. Google Books. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  7. Hiram Morgan, Ireland 1518: Archduke Ferdinand's visit to Kinsale and the Dürer Connection (Cork, 2016)
  8. "Archduke Ferdinand's visit to Kinsale in Ireland, an extract from Le Premier Voyage de Charles-Quint en Espagne, de 1517 à 1518". 
  9. "Kinsale Past and Present". West Cork Travel. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2009. 
  10. "Prince Rupert at Kinsale, 1649". 
  11. "King James II.". 
  12. Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: Engineering and architecture of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700-1914. Swindon, UK: English Heritage. 
  13. "Full text of "The Pirates' Who's Who: Giving Particulars Of The Lives and Deaths Of The Pirates And Buccaneers"". 
  14. "Privateer: Life aboard a British Privateer In the time of Queen Anne 1708-1711". 
  15. "Kinsale". Eircom. Retrieved 27 January 2009. 
  16. See for an account in the Illustrated London News of the opening of the Kinsale branch line and for a recent photographic survey of the remains of the route and stations.
  17. "Sáile Sports and Leisure". saile sports and leisure. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  18. "Kinsale Yacht Club". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  19. "Kinsale RFC". Kinsale RFC. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2009. 
  20. "Kinsale GAA Club". Kinsale GAA. Retrieved 27 January 2009. 
  21. "Kinsale Badminton Club". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  22. "Something For the Weekend – Kinsale". The Independent. 22 October 2003. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  23. "Kinsale Jazz Festival". Archived from the original on 31 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kinsale)