For other uses, see Kinsale (disambiguation).
Cionn tSáile

Location in Ireland

Coordinates: 51°42′27″N 8°31′50″W / 51.7075°N 8.5305556°W / 51.7075; -8.5305556Coordinates: 51°42′27″N 8°31′50″W / 51.7075°N 8.5305556°W / 51.7075; -8.5305556
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2016)
  Urban 2,413
  Rural 2,695
Irish Grid Reference W637506

Kinsale (/kɪnˈsl/; Irish: Cionn tSáile, meaning "Tide Head") is a historic port and fishing town in County Cork, Ireland, which also has significant military history. Located some 25 km south of Cork City on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and had a population of 4,893 (at the 2011 census - see ) 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 in the Cork South–West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has five seats.

Kinsale is a popular holiday resort for Irish and overseas tourists.[1] 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.[2]

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 (see

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 - see 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. See also

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.

In 1333, under a charter granted by King Edward III of England, the Corporation of Kinsale was established to undertake local government in the town.[7] The corporation existed for over 500 years until the passing of the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840, when local government in Kinsale was transferred to the Town Commissioners who had been elected in the town since 1828. These Town Commissioners became the Kinsale Council under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 and the Kinsale Town Council existed until 2014 when this layer of local government was abolished in Ireland as part of measures to reduce Ireland's budget deficit following the financial crisis of 2008-2010 (see Post-2008 Irish economic downturn). 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 (see ). In 1601 a Spanish military expedition - the last of the Armadas - landed in Kinsale. 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 a 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.[8] 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 (see also regarding Prince Rupert and his fleet at Kinsale).

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 of England and Ireland (James VII of Scotland) landed at Kinsale in March 1689 with a force of 2,500 men (see, 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 of England returned to exile in France from Kinsale, following his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne by William III of England (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.[9] English 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 (see[10] 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 City 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.[11] 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 to the Irish railway system of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway and its successors from 1863 until 1931, when it 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. 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.


Bus Éireann provides Kinsale's primary means of public transport. Buses regularly operate from Kinsale to Cork City, 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.

Transition towns

Kinsale is the first Transition Town in Ireland. It is a community-based group, supported by Kinsale town council. It looks for sustainable solutions to the challenges of peak oil and climate change. Public meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month. It has taken much guidance from the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan 2021, which has spawned further Transition Towns worldwide.[12]

Sports and community groups

The Saile sports and leisure centre is situated opposite the Kinsale Community School overlooking the Bandon River. The Sáile Sports & Community Centre Project is an initiative by the KRD Community Association, a non profit sporting body made up of local activists committed to better the lives of the residents of Kinsale and its environs.[13]

Phase 1 includes four x 5 a-side all-weather pitches, tennis court, basketball court and community garden opened by President Mary McAleese in October 2010.

Phase 2 will be the Sports and Community Centre. This will include an indoor sports/community hall, changing rooms and community meeting rooms with a kitchenette.

Kinsale Yacht Club (KYC) 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 420's. The yacht classes include Squib (keelboat), International Dragon (keelboat) and A-Class Catamaran as well as three Cruiser Classes (Class I, II and III).[14]

Kinsale Rugby Football Club recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.[15] It has an underage system, a women's team and has both first and second junior men's team.

The Kinsale GAA club plays in the Carrigdhoun division of Cork GAA.[16] They won the Cork Football Intermediate County Championship in 2011, the first time since 1915.

Kinsale Badminton[17] club which is affiliated with Badminton Ireland is based in St Multose Hall Kinsale. It caters for both adult and juvenile players and enters teams in Cork county Leagues and Cups.

The Kinsale Branch of the Irish Red Cross has been in existence since 1939 and is staffed by volunteers, who are present at local events and activities – including the annual Kinsale Sevens by the Sea rugby event.[18] The Kinsale Red Cross has 2 ambulances which are housed in a purpose built building in Church Lane and crewed by trained volunteers.

Kinsale regularly does well in the Irish Tidy Towns Competition and was the overall winner in 1986 (see 2015 report


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).[19][20]

Government and politics

. The town forms part of the Bandon-Kinsale electoral district on Cork County Council and is part of the Cork South-West constituency for Dáil Éireann elections.

Twin towns – Sister cities

Kinsale is twinned with:


The largest planned development, of 2.9 ha, near the historic centre is the restarted Convent Garden scheme promoted by Cumnor Construction since the early 2000s (Cork County Council planning application 04/53026 see ). This involves a combination of conversion of the austere grey rendered concrete former St Josephs Convent of the Sisters of Mercy on Ramparts Lane into 79 apartments and building in the grounds 94 new build houses, with 295 car spaces, according to the Bord Pleanala inspector's report of 2005. After several years of inactivity, work on building the new units recommenced in 2015.[23]

For a period in 2007-9, a circa 18,000 sqm hotel, apartment and retail development was promoted by Fuschia Investments Limited, a company linked to Howard Holdings plc for the prominent site near the tourist office between Pier Road and Long Quay (Planning Register Reference Number: 04/53030) - see , vacant since the (early?) 1980s and once the site of a Henry Good warehouse (and up to 1922 an RIC barracks). Scott Tallon Walker Architects undertook a design study for the development <>. However, by 2011 the site had reverted to its use as a surface car park. The potential scheme now appears to be controlled by Clowater Asset Management Limited, of Cork.

Abbey Fort is a development of 260 units by Dunboy Construction., at the north end of Kinsale, in which initial phases were completed in 2007-12. Part of the 22 acres of the site at Abbey Fort was sold by the National Asset Management Agency to Cairn Homes and Lone Star in December 2015 as part of the Ulster Bank Project Clear sale (see Further units went on sale in 2016, although parts of the main frontage to Abbey Lane remain to be developed in order to integrate the scheme into the streetscape.

People from or associated with Kinsale

See also



  1. "On Census Day, April 23rd 2006". Ireland News: Top Story. Irish Times. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2009. Irish Times 1 July 2008
  2. Davenport, F.; Charlotte, Beech; Downs, T; Hannigan, D; Parnell, F; Wilson, N (2006). Lonely Planet Ireland. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 1-74059-968-3.
  3. "Online Historical Population Reports Website". University of Essex. 2007. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  4. "NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2013". 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  5. Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  6. Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.
  7. Appendix to the First Report ...: Southern, midland, western and south ... - Great Britain. Commissioners on Municipal Corporations in Ireland. Google Books. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  8. "Kinsale Past and Present". West Cork Travel. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  9. Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: Engineering and architecture of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700-1914. Swindon, UK: English Heritage.
  10. "Privateer: Life aboard a British Privateer In the time of Queen Anne 1708-1711".
  11. "Kinsale". Eircom. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  12. Lawrence, Felicity (7 April 2007). "Article on Transition Towns". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  13. "Sáile Sports and Leisure". saile sports and leisure. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  14. "Kinsale Yacht Club". Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  15. "Kinsale RFC". Kinsale RFC. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  16. "Kinsale GAA Club". Kinsale GAA. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  17. "Kinsale Badminton Club". Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  18. "Kinsale Red Cross – About Us". Kinsale Red Cross. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  19. "Something For the Weekend – Kinsale". The Independent. 22 October 2003. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  20. "Kinsale Jazz Festival". Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  21. "Helpful Links for Visitors: Sister Cities". City of Newport. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  22. "The Mumbles Reporter". February 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  23. "Kinsale convent scheme reduced to 96 residences". Irish Examiner. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  24. Hiram Morgan, Ireland 1518: Archduke Ferdinand's visit to Kinsale and the Dürer Connection (Cork, 2016)
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