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Time Out: Moveable Feasting

02 November 2006

Kinsale is a delightful town on the south-west coast of Ireland. Narrow, steep streets with brightly coloured, bow-windowed houses and shops overlook a pretty, natural harbour on the estuary of the river Bandon.

On Christmas Eve 1601, Kinsale was the site of a pivotal battle in the Nine Years War, which marked a turning point in Irish history, destroying hopes of independence. It then became a garrison town and an important naval base. It retains much Georgian and Victorian architecture.

Kinsale is justly famous for its wonderful restaurants. Taxi drivers are fond of telling you that there are 36 pubs.

What to see
Desmond Castle (right), which now houses the Kinsale International Museum of Wine. Also St Multose’s, a 12th-century church.

Work off some of that food with a two-hour walk to the Old Head of Kinsale. Admire the stunning cliff views, and reflect on the sinking of the Lusitania here in 1915.

How to get there
Hop on a budget flight to Cork (Ryanair flies there); then it’s a 20-minute cab ride to Kinsale.

Where to stay
Accommodation ranges from the cheap and cheerful — the Sea Gull B & B in the town centre has en-suite family rooms for ¤35 per night — to the more expensive boutique hotels,  and traditional hotels, such as Blue Haven or Acton’s.

Eating and drinking
There are far too many fantastic places to mention. A good starting point is to check out the members of the Kinsale Good Food Circle. Our favourites are Jim Edwards, Man Friday, and Hoby’s. For lunch (but be prepared to queue), try Fishy Fishy, a café and gourmet store. Crackpots, a restaurant with a kiln at the back, is also worth a look.

Near by
Cork City; Cobh (Queenstown); and the shrine to Our Lady in Ballinspittle, where many claim to have seen the statue of Mary move — especially after pub closing.

Winter visitors might find the town sleepy, but hotels are cheaper, and most of the restaurants stay open.

Avoid visiting early in September, when the Irish International Advertising Festival takes place: it’s a thin excuse for ad types from all over Europe to colonise the town and get gloriously drunk for three days.

Further information
Tourist office: www.kinsale.ie (phone from UK 00 353 21 477 2234).

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