Built in the 1590's, this building first served as a market house until, around 1706, it became the seat of the mayor and chief justice of Kinsale. It was here that the Kinsale Town Corporation and Sovereign conducted their affairs.
On May 10th 1915 the Courthouse was the venue of the inquest into the loss of the Cunard liner Lusitania, sunk by a German U-boat. Captain Turner gave evidence before a jury of twelve shopkeepers and fishermen. The sinking of the Lusitania was the turning point which brought America into WWI.
Nowadays, the building houses the Regional Museum, which, among other things, displays memorabilia from the Lusitania. Its other exhibits present the town's history, including the Battle of Kinsale.
If you go there with children, they will be thrilled to see the giant shoes of the Kinsale Giant, Patrick Cotter O'Brien (1760-1806), who at 2.5 m was the tallest man in the world at the time. Not that it made him happy. Discovered by a local showman, he toured Ireland and England for nearly 25 years with a 'freak of nature' show. As a 'surprise guest' he was not supposed to appear in public by day so he spent the time in his cramped lodgings, which in the end affected his health. When he tried to get out by night, the local people fled from him in fear. He spent the last years of his life in Bristol, where he is known as the 'Bristol Giant'.
The Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
This old courthouse/markethouse, now turned regional museum is bang smack in the centre of town. Its display of traditional craft items and artifacts associated with ships and the sea isn't exactly riveting. Upstairs however, in the panelled courtroom, things liven up a bit. Here in this courtroom on the 10th of may 1915 Captain Turner, whose Lusitania had sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale, was called to account. Transcripts of this and other less important trials are available to read. For opening hours of this museum you need to check with the Tourist Office.
Eventually this woodland track peters out onto a road and here with an elegant terrace of georgian houses, the town becomes closer. There's a great vista of the ships and marina here, quite different to the aspect you see from the Pier Road. The Spinnaker Pub is the next source of interest, with its nautical knickknaks and over the top decorative style. As the Spinnaker doesn't open until 5.30 we can only look from the outside and continue uphill to the Spaniard for lunch. The Spaniard is one of Kinsale's best known and best loved landmarks and I will describe it in detail in the restaurant tips section
Charles Fort is a classic example of a star-shaped fort and has five bastions. The two seaward bastions, the Devil's and the Charles' were for defending the harbour and both are casemated - that is, they have gun embrasures inside as well as on top of the walls.
Besieged in 1690 by the Duke of Marlborough and destroyed in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, Charles Fort reflects the turbulence of Ireland's past. It was declared a national monument in 1973. Facilities include an exhibition centre, restaurant and toilets. Guided tours available.
Desmond castle was built around 1500 by, wouldn't you know it, the Earl of Desmond, originally as a Custom house. The castle has also served as a prison and suffered a fire in 1747, killing 50-odd prisoners. Also used as an arsenal by the Spanish prior to the "Battle of Kinsale" and as a workhouse for the ultra-poor during the Great Famine years. Declared a National Monument in 1938 and restored, it now houses an International Wine Museum since 1997.
Entrance is 3€ for an adult, with some reductions for seniors, students and children.
In my opinion the whole Kinsale town is a must see! I really like this small colorfull picturesque town by the sea. It's one of the towns I liked the most during my stay in Ireland. It's really worth a visit!
I recently visited the very historic and extremely attractive town of Kinsale where my family had a wonderful few days holiday. One of the best attractions for great value was Dermot Ryan's Heritage Town Walks. This walking tour was the highlight of our visit to Kinsale and one of the highlights of our 2010 summer holidays. Held twice daily from outside the Town's Tourist Office, Dermot is a local and expert in local history who gives a highly individual and personal take on the history of the town in a manner which is miles away from the usual tour guide tour given by people with little or no contact with the location. Very informative and very enjoyable for a mixed group of adults, teenagers and children - extrenely good value at €5 per adult and children free. He even went out of his way to give us some tips on tracing our ancestors from Cork as well as advice and help for sights in the area and even local restaurants. Outstanding attraction in this outstanding town - well done and an A++
Desmonds Castle is were you will find the wine museum ,it is not quite a castle but a 15th century fortified house with a main keep and store houses behind .
The place as a colourful past as a prison holding French, Spanish and American war of indepenece prisoners during the numerous wars in the 17th and 18th centuries and became known as the French prison.
Desmonds Castle was built as Kinsales customs house by the 14th century Kinsale had become a busy port with wine being imported from France and Spain then shipped to England via Bristol the Desmonds earned great wealth till they fell out with the English queen Elizabeth I who had all their lands confiscated.
In 1601 Spanish forces occupied Kinsale in support of the rebellion against the crown and during the siege Desmond?s castle became the gunpowder magazine.
By 1791 the castle became Kinsale goal till 1846 then during the potato famine began life as the local work house; the castle was in ruins by 1905 and was place as a national monument in 1938.
Today you will find little scenes that took place in the castle during its history .Also a history of Irish families that left Kinsale and the surrounding areas after the rebellion failed and went in to exile and set up wine growing and exporting industries some that are still going today
Strolls around the old narrow streets of Kinsale were the smells of the cooking wafts out of the pastel painted buildings. There are interesting antiques shops for you to window shop in, local craft shops and art galleries make this the most prettiest looking village in Ireland
The old court house is now Kinsales museum which as a interesting toll board listing the local taxes in 1788 (the best I thought was no tax to be paid if coal was carried on the backs of children or women)
The court house has a Dutch look about its construction ,it was here in 1915 that the inquest ito the sinking of the Lusitania was held and as a memorial to the poeple that died at the end of the inquest the room was left just as it was in 1915
The Scilly Walk is a path along the sea that runs from Scilly, the community across the harbor from Kinsale, all the way to Charles Fort. If you continue to walk south along the sea from Charles Fort, you'll find another path that follows the headland to the tip of Frower Point, which offers great views across the harbor to the Old Head of Kinsale. The complete walk from Kinsale to Frower Point is 8km (5 miles) each way, and every part of it is quite rewarding. You will see awesome views of the town, harbor, sea, and Old Head. I have gotten some of my favorite pictures along this walk.
Kinsale is considered the most picturesque harbor town in Ireland. The streets are full of color, flowers, and friendly people. No matter what time of day it is, early morning, mid afternoon, or late evening, you will feel comfortable strolling thru its beautiful streets. I never tire of doing this and every time I go there I take walks through there a few times a day.
A lovely historic walk together with Harry (or Don), telling all about the harbour of Kinsale, how the town grow bigger.
"Soft days" - Umbrella a ' plenty!
"Desperate days" - Tea/Scone
It's featured as well in the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide to Ireland
A 17th century star-shaped fort that protects Kinsale. Charles Fort is a classic example of a star-shaped fort and has five bastions. The two seaward bastions, the Devil's and the Charles' were for defending the harbour and both are casemated - that is, they have gun embrasures inside as well as on top of the walls.
Affords wonderful views of the city.
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