Seaside resort still top for tourism
It’s no surprise that Kinsale’s Old Head is the very first of the 188 Discovery Points on the new and hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way Passport.
This must-see attraction near the town is an iconic landmark for anyone wishing to explore Ireland — as is the historic port town of Kinsale itself!
Whether it’s the picturesque harbour location that does it for you, the ancient, narrow winding streets, the mouth-watering food on offer or Kinsale’s many quirky, independent shops, this is one town that succeeds in its effort to offer something for everyone.
And it’s an effort that really brings great rewards, because if the last few months are anything to go by, summer 2017 looks set to become a bumper season for the town — according to Jackie Dawson of Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business.
“We had a really positive start to 2017 session with a number of very well-attended events,” she recalls.
From the Kinsale Pink Ribbon Walk for Action Breast Cancer in March to the large crowds enjoying the town’s St Patrick’s Day festival with its unique maritime parade and the gratifying success of the Kinsale Street Food Festival — which was quickly followed by the always-popular Kinsale Chowder festival in April — the signs are good for summer.
“We’re looking forward to a full calendar over the summer,” says Jackie, who says the season will kick off I on June 10th with an exciting visual art exhibition, Take Five, in which a group of creative artists — Vivienne Roche, Charles Tyrrell, Katherine Boucher Beug, Stefan Syrowatka, and Sarah O’Flaherty will use painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture to create an engaging visual landscape.
The exhibition, which is supported by Cork County Coucnil will run until July 21st at the Old Mill, also known as the James O’Neill Building.
Other events to look forward to include the Kinsale Regatta on the August Bank Holiday: “Indications are already good for summer 2017,” says Jackie who says bookings in the town’s hotels, boutique guesthouses and B&Bs are up on last year, while a lot of interest is already being expressed in activities such as sailing courses, daily heritage walls and harbour cruises.
“It looks like it will be a very good summer for Kinsale,” she says, adding that the Old Head Golf Links is anticipating its busiest summer in two decades of operation.
Shopping in Kinsale is always a pleasure — stores are individually-owned rather than being simply branches of international chain stores in towns and cities around the world.
What’s on sale too, is often very different to what you’ll see on a humdrum high streets — shoppers can browse a wide selection of locally produced goods ranging from art, crystal and silver to food.
Art galleries and antique shops pepper its warren of winding streets: “Kinsale is quirky and genuinely Irish with products made in Ireland — you get your handwoven scarves, your Irish pottery, your local silver and crystal here.
“There’s an emphasis on the sale of Irish products which is something that has evolved in the town over time,” says one long-term resident of the town. “People love to walk into a shop and find themselves speaking to the owner; this is a very attractive thing to do for many visitors, because the retail world has become so homogenised.”
For those interested in history, the Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower, which dates from the 1804 has been restored and is open to the public for the past two years, while a new Lusitania Memorial Garden was recently opened nearby to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania.
Kinsale attracts a healthy mix of domestic an overseas visitors from the UK, USA, Germany, France and the Nordic countries, Kinsale is a must-see on the cruise-ship circuit: “We also benefit from the cruise ships which come into Cobh and send buses of passengers to Kinsale for a day’s shopping and sightseeing,” says Jackie, who adds that the town does well throughout the year in terms of mini-breaks, activity weekends and high-end group social outings.
“Kinsale has great appeal for all ages,” she says, pointing to the arrival of new businesses, which have opened in retail and gallery spaces, contributing to the overall attractiveness of this port town, which is already renowned for its highquality restaurants and cafes.
Local businesses and businesspeople are doing well — the Kinsale Supervalu won the Store of the Year 2017 award, while during the spring came the announcement that local restaurateur Liam Edwards, of Jim Edwards would hold the prestigious title of President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland for the year.
Kinsale is a town which has, as one local said, a hell of a lot going for it — and it makes the most of it all.
Its history is hugely accessible for visitors: guided history walks from the Tourism Information Office between April and October attract a large following. They cover the town’s often violent history — for example the Battle of Kinsale — and explain the background to some of its more picturesque street-names.
Kinsale has strong ties to the sinking of the Lusitania, — the inquest was held in what was the former courthouse, now a museum — while the legacy of the town’s lace-making tradition continues to be of interest in Ireland and abroad, attracting groups of lace-makers each year.
One of the first events to take place in Kinsale each year is Kinsale Lace Week, held in March, which draws traditional lace-makers from Cork, Kerry, Dublin, Galway, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and elsewhere . The renowned lace was made in the former Mercy Convent which began the tradition as a way to offer employment to local women from poor families.
At one stage 157 women were employed in lace making and Kinsale Lace was sold all over the world.
During Lace Week last year, for example, a superbly-crafted piece of hand-made Kinsale lace was presented to parish priest Fr Robert Young, by the traditional Lacemakers of Ireland to be hung, with an accompanying plaque, in St John the Baptist church in memory of the lace-makers of Kinsale.
Kinsale is a must-see place for visitors coming to Ireland — and its strategic location just 20 minutes’ drive from Cork Airport, makes it well-placed for visitors. Let’s not forget that the town is also located at the very beginning of the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way!
■ Kinsale Tourist Office : 021 4772234.
Kinsale, where the excellent offering of fine food, fun atmosphere and great retail is poised to create a real buzz this summer.
Visitors looking at brochures at Kinsale Tourist Information Office.
KINSALE CHAMBER OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS