Kinsale in County Cork is about as quaint picturesque Ireland as you can get.
We visited this small seaport town ten years ago and fell in love with its colorful buildings, great food, beautiful harbor, and quaint shops. It is a great place to go for a relaxing vacation by the sea. Many Irish and European visitors flock to it every summer too, so mind the crowds during the peak season. One of the reasons we planned our Irish road trip in June was to beat the onslaught of tourists. Our strategy seems to be working, as we have encountered very light crowds wherever we have gone so far.
I don’t want to appear hypocritical. I know that I’m a tourist too. Its just that too many of us in one spot usually ruins the experience. Ireland is a very popular destination. We really wanted a relaxing tour of the island without the hassle of fighting others for the same thing. If you are like us and want Ireland as much to yourselves as possible, then do not go in July or August. The seemingly endless parade of tour buses deliver throngs of vacationers from all over the globe. Small towns like Kinsale quickly become overrun. The magic of Ireland can get lost in the crowds.
June weather is not as ideal, but we have been having amazing luck so far. Warm, sunny days followed by cool nights has been the norm. We capitalized on our good fortune and took along walk out to Charles Fort. The walk to the fort is approximately three miles, but is easy and very scenic. It is a newer fort built in the star formation. There is not much to see inside to be honest. Since we saw it on our last visit, we were not disappointed that it was closed when we arrived.
Kinsale does not have much in the way of ancient Irish ruins or landmarks. What it lacks in antiquity, however, it makes up for in quaintness. It is a great place to just relax and take in the sea air and eat some great pub food. Amazingly, outside of one pub I saw a brass plaque honoring a fallen United States Navy SEAL. Who knew?
We stayed in the middle of Kinsale at a nice bed and breakfast called The Seagull Guest House. It is owned by Mary O’Neil, who travel writer Rick Steves calls the unofficial “Godmother of Kinsale.” She is a very nice elderly lady who took good care of us.
On the recommendation from a local, we went to Kitty O Se’s for dinner and live music. It was amazing! Great pub food, good Irish music, and a warm welcome, it does not get more Irish than this!