In earlier centuries, the area to our right was under water, with knuckles of quays protruding into the harbour at right angles. In the 17th century, and again in the 19th century, Kinsale was an important fishing port. For the spring mackerel season, fleets of boats from Cornwall and the Isle of Man assembled, and fish, salted or packed in ice brought from Norway, was shipped to the English markets.
At the Trident Hotel, we reach World’s End, as it is called locally, said to have been thus named by Viking longshipmen wintering there, far from home. We follow the pavement west along the water.
We pass the bridge without crossing, and continue along the water, the banks of the Bandon River, past the car park and quarry. The Bandon was once a thoroughfare for boats delivering goods to the small quays along its banks. We shortly come to Commoge Marsh on the right. Painted plaques illustrate the bird species, many of which fly phenomenal distances to reach here, including godwits from Iceland, and knot, from the Canadian High Arctic.
Cappagh Lane, 200 yards beyond the creek, is almost hidden. On the sharp bend after the marsh, the lane and a laneway to a house leave the road as one. Ascending the lane we have views over the marsh, river and harbour; these culminate in a spectacular panorama from a viewing spot at the top. We retrace our steps to the road, continuing until we turn right at the T-junction and descend towards the town.
Downhill, downhill, the town’s roofscapes and steeples spread out below us. When a line of toytown cottages comes into view on our right, we turn sharp left, uphill, and take the first right into Lower Catholic Walk. This leads us to the Carmelite Friary church, an impressive building. The Carmelite Order has been associated with Kinsale almost continuously since 1334.
The tree-lined avenue that leads downhill from the front door of the church is somewhat reminiscent of a small ‘ramblas’ in a Spanish town. At the end, we turn right, into Cork Street, and immediately notice Desmond Castle, a Custom House built in the 16th century by the Earls of Desmond and later used as a prison for French sailors when England was at war with Napoleon.
Past Desmond Castle, in the same street, the imposing church of St John the Baptist stands. The left turning opposite takes us to Church Street, where we turn left again, passing in front of Kinsale’s most famous building, St Multose Church. Seemingly straight out of medieval Normandy, it is quite unlike the ancient churches we are familiar with in Ireland. It reminds us, more than other Norman ruins, of the ‘Frenchness’ of these invaders when they first came. It was built circa 1195, by Milo de Cogan, and designed like the stolid country churches of Northern France. It has a second unique distinction; it has been a place of worship for an unbroken 800 years.
We continue left along Church Street, and cross the junction into Market Place and Market Square. A stroll down Market Quay returns us to the tourist office.
Start point: To reach Kinsale we take the N27 south from Cork, which becomes the R600 (Kinsale Road) at Cork Airport roundabout. After 25km we reach Kinsale. We start with our backs to the tourist office, which is in the town centre, on Cork Street.
A gentle climb on pavements and quiet roads where comfortable shoes will be more than adequate.
Map: OS Discovery 87
Starting with a night walk on Friday evening and including 3 walks, varying from easy (C) to difficult (A) on Saturday and Sunday. Registration will take place in Danno’s bar, Strand Street prior to each walk. No prior notification needed, just show up, register and enjoy. See website for details on individual walks.
FEB 16: Moycullen to Tullykyne road walk, easy; meet St Oliver Plunkett Church, Renmore, 1.15pm.
FEB 16: Knocknahillion and Letterbreckaun, grade B hillwalk, also to include grade A walk option, meet Omniplex cinema, Headford Road, 9.15am.
FEB 16: Ballyhoura Way, grade C, meet Ash Tree Bar, Old Chapel, 7.45am.
FEB 16: Sunday walk, Crow’s Foot Fearbrague, grade A, 10km, 4hrs, meet Kinnitty Community Centre, 11am.