The man, named locally as John Rice, 42, is understood to have become trapped between the rear of his lorry and specialist grain-feeding machinery at a milling company in the Co Cork town at 12.45pm yesterday.
His workmates attempted to revive him before emergency crews arrived, but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
The Health and Safety Authority sealed off the area surrounding the grain depot on the premises of Waterlands Shipping & Warehousing near the centre of the town, as they launched an investigation alongside the gardaí into the fatality.
Kinsale was in shock at learning of the death of Mr Rice, a father of three who was originally from Ballinhassig, Co Cork, but lived in the small village of Aherla, near Ballincollig.
Mr Rice’s wife, Valerie, was last night being comforted by family and friends. Local councillor Dermot Collins said: “It’s a terrible tragedy. I was in complete shock when I heard about it, just like everyone else around here.
“It’s extremely sad and my sympathies go out to his family and workmates, who will be struggling to come to terms with what’s happened.
“It’s obviously a busy time with harvesting going on, but no one could have foreseen something like this happening.”
Another family friend, who asked not to be named, added: “He was the loveliest man you’d ever meet. He was big into horses and had a lovely way about him. I’m just devastated.”
Former mayor Michael Frawley added: “It’s a terrible tragedy, especially for the poor man’s family. Nobody is certain as to exactly how it happened, but it sounds like it was a freak accident.”
A spokesman for Waterlands Shipping & Warehousing, one of the town’s biggest employers, yesterday issued a statement expressing the firm’s regret.
The spokesman, Roger Dale, said: “We are all profoundly devastated and shocked by what has happened, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased at this time.
“As the Garda and Health and Safety Authority investigations are under way, we are not in a position to comment further on the actual incident, but are co-operating fully with the investigation.”
Mr Rice’s best friend died in a work-related accident in Cork, involving a crane, six years ago.
A family friend said: “He never got over that accident. They were the best of friends. It’s a brutal irony that John has died in a similar accident.”