Kinsale is the best place to retire to: Here's an insider's guide to living there

I blew into Kinsale in 2013. Here are the things you need to know about living in one of  Travel + Leisure's best places to retire in Europe
Kinsale is the best place to retire to: Here's an insider's guide to living there

Kinsale is one of the most gorgeous places in Cork.  Picture: David Creedon 

Travel + Leisure was dead right when they picked Kinsale as one of the best places to grow old in Europe. But it is much more than just horse riding and yacht clubs, as they suggested. Here are the things you need to know if you're thinking of making the move. 

Fancy takeaway treats

While Travel + Leisure said “Foodies will appreciate the restaurants, fresh seafood, and perhaps even cooking classes at the Kinsale Gourmet Academy,” we know that the real gourmet gems are the casual takeaway options. No, not Dinos. The 'bubbly sandwiches' at St Francis Provisions have a cult following and the queue starts early outside OHK and Food U. 

Chef Darren Kennedy with Barbara Nealon for a take away at St. Francis Provisions on Short Quay in Kinsale, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Chef Darren Kennedy with Barbara Nealon for a take away at St. Francis Provisions on Short Quay in Kinsale, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

We might not have deliveroo, but if you head to the bridge, you'll get a very decent pizza from Toto or Pizza Rustika and Catch of the Day serves up fish caught earlier that day. Garretstown knows its audience (hipster surfers) and is now home to a number of horse-boxes-come-coffee-bars while in Ballinspittle you'll be able to pick up treats from Leafling Mercantile and Diva. 

All-weather walkers

Even before we were locked down and everyone started to incorporate a walk into their day, in Kinsale it has always been a thing. It is an all-weather pursuit; come rain or shine we are pounding the pavement. There are the angry walkers who are grim-faced as they manoeuvre road at World's End up over the bridge and to the Dock, then there are the Sweaty Betty-wearing ladies who chat as they queue up for a post-walk coffee outside Koko.

The Old Head of Kinsale. Picture: Jakub Walutek
The Old Head of Kinsale. Picture: Jakub Walutek

Further west, the Old Head loop is full of walkers displaying their misery as they climb the hill and their elation as they descend. It is quite the rollercoaster. 

Smug sea swimming

Year-round swimming is the most on-trend activity in Kinsale. The 'professional' ones are part of a group at Sandycove who swim at high tide, and the dippers like me run in and out of the water at Garretstown or Garrylucas very early in the morning. 

 Peter Kinirons takes to the water at Sandycove. Picture: Larry Cummins
Peter Kinirons takes to the water at Sandycove. Picture: Larry Cummins

Dry Robes have also made it to Kinsale - there was an incident at The Dock beach a few months ago when a very enthusiastic man was not aware of the incoming tide and who looked up from his dip to see his Dry Robe floating by him on a rippled wave. 

A rich person's playground

There are lots of big, expensive houses to buy in Kinsale. If you like sailing, there are houses that have driveways - but for your yacht - along the marina. Just past the bridge, there are giant houses that overlook the water.

Edgewater is on sale for €2.25m, unique in having its own private marina in the town centre. Picture: Savills
Edgewater is on sale for €2.25m, unique in having its own private marina in the town centre. Picture: Savills

There are glass boxes and country manors, there are brand new builds and crumbling piles with very high ceilings and things that you can restore if you have enough money. 

But a regular person's one too

Just like Cork people love Cork with a passion that may appear excessive to non-Cork people, Kinsale people love Kinsale with the same might.

Cork builder JP Simpson in front of a show house in Kinsale from his company Big Man Tiny Homes.
Cork builder JP Simpson in front of a show house in Kinsale from his company Big Man Tiny Homes.

Even if you are not totally loaded, there are lots of opportunities to make your home in Kinsale and around, and judging by the Tiny Homes that are popping up all over the place, this blow-in is not the only person that realises it. 

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