Kinsale has a history of ups and downs; one of the biggest downs was the defeat of the Irish forces and their Spanish allies at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. The Irish Catholics had appealed to the Spanish king to help them fight the English and the Spanish fleet arrived only to be besieged at Kinsale. The Irish army travelled the length of Ireland from the north and arrived weary and weakened to assist in the liberation of the ships but were defeated outside of Kinsale on Christmas Eve. The Catholics were banned from the town, a ban that lasted for the next 100 years. Many view this defeat as the beginning of the end of Gaelic Ireland.
The triumphant English constructed the star-shaped Charles Fort in 1670 in an effort to protect the harbour from foreign vessels, but they failed to complete part two of the fort on higher ground above them, and left themselves vulnerable to land attack. It fell to the army of William of Orange during a siege only 20 years later. The British forces continued to use the fortress until 1922 when it was handed over to the Irish government, but not before much of the fort was trashed as a vindictive gesture. It was abandoned for many years but became a hippie haven during the 1970s. Restoration began in the 1980s and remains one of the finest star-shaped bastion forts in all of Europe.
For many visitors, Kinsale is the perfect-sized Irish town. There are plenty of things to see and do amongst its winding streets, and many of the sights can be reached on foot. It’s a popular yachting centre and there are restaurants that cater to all tastes and budgets. On a literary note, Alexander Selkirk was stranded on a desert island after sailing off from Kinsale harbour; the event inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe.
Kapoors On The Road
It was getting on towards evening when we arrived in Kinsale, and after studying our guidebook, we headed straight for the White House Hotel. The Kapoor luck held once again, and we found a parking space on the busy main street less than a block from the inn. We found a delightful room waiting for us, and we were even more delighted that the regular rate was reduced somewhat because of the season, and was reduced even further when we asked for a further concession if we chose to forgo ‘the full Irish breakfast’.
We have been delighted to learn that all Irish accommodation includes tea and coffee services in the room, with UHT milk packets and not those nasty powdered creamers. We’re not big breakfast eaters anyway, so we just popped round to a little grocery near where we parked the car and picked up some items to complement the tea and coffee and we were all set.
Well, almost. For some reason, the WIFI signal was very weak in our room but we were told that it was strong in the restaurant and the bar. Do you think there was a conspiracy there or not? No matter; we were thirsty for a cold pint of Guinness anyway, so we headed to the pub and spent the next couple of hours catching up on the business end of our travels. Besides checking on emails, golf and cricket scores, and uploading travel photos, we needed to find a place to stay in Lisbon when we arrived.
We’re getting less and less willing to arrive in a city and looking for a place to stay. We’re also getting more and more dependent on wireless services with sufficient electrical plugs to support the electronics and we had read that Portugal is a little behind the times in this department. After the whirlwind trip we are making around the Emerald Isle, we’re due for a prolonged stay in one place in order to recharge our batteries as well as all our electronics.
A long day of driving and sightseeing, intense web-surfing, and a pint or two of Guinness makes a traveller hungry so we took a break and asked for menus. One of the first things to catch or eyes was the Bangers and Mash meal, a traditional Irish dish of pork sausages, mashed potatoes, and onion gravy that we had not yet tasted. We ordered one dish for us to share because we know that the portions are generous to say the least.
The bangers and mash was delicious and we banged it down pretty quickly. It wasn’t long before we were looking at each other and knowing what the other was thinking. Another plate of the good stuff was ordered in a blink of an eye. Well fortified, we carried on until the battery was depleted on the laptop and it was time to head upstairs for bed. Needless to say, we slept soundly that night despite the fact that the pub next door was playing loud music till just about midnight.
It was drizzling lightly the next morning but as we headed over to tour Charles Fort, the rain stopped and we were able to stay dry as we combed over the ruined buildings enclosed by the restored fortress walls. I never seem to tire of walking through old forts and castles, though I must admire my interest in ornate churches has come to an end. As I was taking my last photos along the bastions of the fort, I looked across the harbour and saw heavy rain beginning to lash the town. It didn’t appear to be a passing storm, the sky looked heavy and grey in all directions.
As we drove towards the city of Cork, we made the decision to spend the day indoors and visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, located on the largest of three islands in the large harbour outside of Cork. This was the beginning of our first rainy day in Ireland. We had enjoyed the Luck of the Irish Weather Gods and it was time to keep Ireland green.