We’ve little to report on Kinsale aside from that it’s beautiful and it makes you want to hang out and drink all day, which we basically did for two full days. The town felt more similar to non-Irish, ritzy-ish harbor towns/cities. In a way, it reminded us a bit of Cape Cod. And we certainly aren’t complaining. The downtown area has a bit more of an upscale vibe than other towns we visited, what with its nice restaurants, galleries, boutique shops and bookstores. Our B&B was a ways up the hill and a bit of a walk from town, but it gave us some pretty spectacular views of town (on the walk) and the bay.
Highlights of our visit included a delicious meal at Fishy Fishy, which was paired with a bottle of wine and a consequent lazy afternoon. This becomes a theme of our time in Kinsale…
We had big plans to walk over to the Charles Fort the next day and continue exploring the area. And we walked all the way over there (not a short walk, mind you!), stopping first for lunch at The Bulman. We decided to have a pint with said lunch. And when we found out they were having a reggae fest that day, it turned into many hours and even more pints.
It was at The Bulman that I discovered the amazingness that is Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer. It’s basically a Moscow mule in a bottle, served over ice and with a slice of lime. It’s pure heaven. And I’ll tell you, pairing your Crabbie’s with The Bulman’s crab sammy (or sarnie, as they say here) is on point.
Of course, Alan tried his Murphy’s Irish Stout in County Cork as Sean, our Cork born friend, advised. He gave it a rave review.
While the day spent drinking and lazily watching the tide go out was lovely, I have to mention the bees in Ireland. They are quite possibly the peskiest and most aggressive bees I’ve ever seen. And they have a particular fondness for Crabbie’s ginger beer. I think I drank, like, four dead bees. What is it with the bees here??
We also met a hilarious old chap who shared some of the best stories I’ve ever heard. He is a real live gypsy, and a former pro-boxing trainer to boot. We’re going to miss the Irish, for sure.
We stopped for a brief visit in the city of Cork before heading to the airport on our way out. It’s a bigger city than we expected, and quite nice (what we saw anyway). While we didn’t have much time to explore, we enjoyed perusing the Irish art at the Crawford Art Gallery, and a stroll and some gourmet samples at the English Market. This market had an impressive selection of meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, sweets, pastries etc…all your market faves.
And one last random tidbit: there were heaps of “golden” retrievers in Kinsale (including an adorable one named Poppy at our B&B!), but they are so pale as to be almost white. We’re thinking we should look into adopting an Irish platinum retriever. Also, how did I not take any photos of these adorable dogs? Guess I was too busy playing with them.
Kinsale is a beautiful seaside town in County Cork. Hailed by many as the culinary capital of Ireland, it has a fairly well-heeled feel to it. The landscape is gentler and it rains less than on the west coast.
Transportation: We drove from Kenmare and generally stayed near the coast, passing some lovely towns and inlets as are standard in these parts. You can walk around most of Kinsale (including to Charles Fort if you’re up for a couple miles); you may need a car to reach The Old Head of Kinsale. The drive from Kinsale to Cork City takes about half an hour. We found a car park right near the English Market for €2.50/hour, but you might check out the park and ride option on the way from Kinsale to Cork City. We departed from Cork Airport (less than half an hour from Kinsale and about 15 minutes from Cork City) headed to Liverpool. By the way, Ryanair kind of blows. It’s a discount airline so I get the high fee to check a bag and extra charge to select a seat or pay with a credit card. And I kind of get the insane €70 fee if you don’t check in online. But they charge €15 if you don’t print out your boarding pass, and if you’re on the road that is a bit of a pain. Moreover, our flight was delayed an hour and a half for no apparent reason (weather seemed fine), and it was probably the first developed country full-size jet I’ve been on where there is no place to put anything in the seat back in front of you and the seats do not recline.
Accommodation: We stayed at Rocklands House B&B. Our room was nice with a great view of the water. Breakfast is very good and John is a kind host (e.g. he offered a glass of wine our first night and printed boarding passes for us). The only downside is it’s a good 20-minute walk to town, with the return being uphill. Our friends recommended Actons of Kinsale, right in town.
Food and Drinks: The Bulman came highly recommended, and it did not disappoint. There was good food and craic. We stumbled upon the 3rd annual Reggae on the Rocks and never made it to Charles Fort. Note that The Bulman is a bit outside the main town, closer to Charles Fort and in the Summercove neighborhood. The Spaniard and Man Friday both come recommended and they’re outside the main town but closer, in the Scilly area.
Lunch at Fishy Fishy on the patio was great. Lunch at Lemon Leaf Cafe was good. Pizza at V-izza was not good. The Black Pig is closed Monday-Tuesday so we missed out but it’s a well-reviewed wine bar/restaurant. Other places that tempted us include Finn’s Table and Max’s Wine Bar. As elsewhere in Ireland, many nice restaurants offer early bird deals.
In Cork City, the English Market has lots of raw and some prepared food, including at the Farmgate Cafe.
Activities: We spent a fair amount of time “working” here and thus went light on the activities, pretty much just walking around town and spending a full day listening to reggae at The Bulman. Kinsale is noted for its rich history (largely due to its splendid natural harbor) and there are some guided walks from the Tourist Office. Charles Fort is a popular attraction. The Old Head of Kinsale comes recommended for a stroll or round of golf.
We got laundry done for €12 and it was ready in just a few hours. I don’t know the name but I think it’s on Market Street and it’s just by Lemon Leaf Cafe, and it’s not the one called Elite.
With less than two hours in Cork City on our way out, we visited the English Market (awesome selection of plain and marinated meats + sausages + cheese etc.) and the very good and free Crawford Art Gallery.
August 3-6, 2014 (Sunday-Wednesday)