Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kinsale - my favourite stop on our Irish visit

We're nearing the end of our Irish visit, so my daily proclamations of 'this is my favourite place in Ireland so far' will soon be drawing to an end, which means, in essence, that most likely Kinsale will take the crown.

We've spent 2 weeks now in the Emerald Isle, starting in Dublin, then across to Tralee in County Kerry which was a great base for exploring the rugged beauty that greets you around every turn of the winding West coast roads, and finally, down to County Cork, where we have delighted in the quaint villages and rolling countryside that surrounds us. There's a lot of competition out there, and as we were driving along today, Mr Traveller quite rightly pointed out that you can't really go wrong with a visit to Ireland; everywhere is so pleasing to the eye, the food is delicious and the people are charming to the max.Up until today, Clonakilty took the favourite spot, but it seems we had been inadvertently saving the best until last.

Having to work our sightseeing around the necessity that is toddler nap-time, we arrived in Kinsale post nap-in-the-car, just in time for lunch, which was news enough to make everyone smile. After a quick rece of the centre of town we chose a lively looking modern fusion cafe called the Lemon Leaf Cafe, and we weren't disappointed with our choice. After refuelling we set off to explore the town with the renewed ability to focus on things other than our stomach and were delighted by what we found.

Kinsale is a harbour town, which gives it an immediate high score in my book. The town itself has that old-worldly charm that is par for the course around much of Ireland. Every second building was a b&b, and they were generally kept in pristine condition and painted in vibrant colours which would look ridiculous in so many situations, but seem to work so well against the muted light that is the norm under an overcast sky.

Around every corner was another winding street with narrow pathways which us amused for hours. My only sadness was the 6 coachloads of cruise passengers who were visiting at the same time as us and insisted on clogging the paths and proclaiming loudly about how strange it was that another country could count their small change as cents when their notes weren't dollars.

After a couple of hours exploring (and a chocolate brownie sundae from the ice-cream shop - who knew how great Irish ice-cream was?) we headed back to the car and drove the 5 minutes or so out of town to Charles Fort - one of two ruins of forts which guarded the entrance to Kinsale harbour. Although I'd done a bit of background reading about it, I wasn't prepared for how magnificent the ruins would be, and 4 euros each seemed like a tiny price to pay for the hour plus that we spent exploring the fortification. Wide open grassy spaces and tiny hidey hole doors made it the perfect exploration point for the littlest hobo and the views, both back to the town and out to sea and along the coastline were breathtaking.

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