The National Enterprise Town Awards: Kinsale

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Kinsale in Co Cork.

Kinsale is a historic port and fishing town in County Cork, which also has significant military history. Located south of Cork City on the southeast coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it is located at the mouth of the River Bandon.

Its population was 5,281 according to the 2016 census. Its population increases during the summer months, when the tourist season is at its peak and the boating fraternity and other tourist visitors arrive in numbers. The town is known for its restaurants, and holds an annual Gourmet Festival.

In 1333, under a charter granted by King Edward III of England, the Corporation of Kinsale was established to undertake local government in the town. The corporation existed for over 500 years until the passing of the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840, when local government in Kinsale was transferred to the Town Commissioners who had been elected in the town since 1828.

In its history, Kinsale has also important occasional links with Spain. In 1518 Archduke Ferdinand, later Emperor Ferdinand I, paid an unscheduled visit to the town, during which one of his staff wrote a remarkable account of its inhabitants.

In 1601, a Spanish military expedition – the last of the Armadas launched against the Kingdom of England – landed in Kinsale to link with Irish rebel forces and attack England. As a result, the battle of Kinsale took place at the end of the Nine Years War in which English forces, led by Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy, defeated the rebel Irish force, led by Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and Red Hugh O’Donnell, two Gaelic princes from Ulster. The Irish forces were allied with the forces of King Felipe III of Spain, who was also King of Portugal and the Algarves.

The town has a very strong sense of community and a wide variety of sporting and recreational facilities and clubs including GAA, badminton, rugby, a yacht club and many more. Kinsale has a vibrant sense of community spirit both in the business and voluntary sectors including the Tidy Towns committee.

Kinsale is the first ‘Transition Town’ in Ireland, and the Transition Town community organisation, supported by Kinsale town council, holds meetings locally. It has taken some guidance from the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan 2021, which has spawned further Transition Towns worldwide.

A great example of the collaboration in the town is the Future Kinsale Cooperative. This is a new town initiative to develop a thriving sustainable community for the next 20 years and beyond, bringing together businesses, residents, community groups and public bodies to plan, fund and deliver an agreed programme of local projects, for the long-term benefit of Kinsale by priority and timeline.

Kinsale hosts an annual jazz festival, which takes place during the last weekend of October. Pubs and hotels in the town host concerts by jazz and blues groups throughout the weekend.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 12 September, 2019