Kinsale - What a beautiful little town! This is certainly our favorite place so far. Getting here was exciting only because we have to drive on the left side of the road! It certainly took some getting used to! Watch out locals- here come the Americans! Thankfully, Jake used to drive a stick shift, so the manual transmission is no problem, but the gear shift on the left side is a bit awkward. At least the clutch is still under the same foot! On our drive we stopped by the Rock of Cashel, an old fortress that was given to the Church in 1101. The chapel was built from 1127-1134, and the cathedral was built between 1235 and 1270. In the chapel you'll find some of the oldest frescos in the country. In the cathedral, you'll see beautiful gothic architecture and hear about how 900 Irish Confederates were massacred, right where we stood, by the opposing English Parliamentarian troops in 1647. Man, these guys were brutal!
It was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and we were happy about the stop. And then we got to Kinsale; a quaint, charming little town that was once a very important port controlled by the British. In order to protect this port, the British built Charles Fort in the 1700s. This fort completely blew away all notions of beauty and awe that we had at the Rock of Cashel. This was was AWESOME. (If you're planning on coming through, skip Cashel and save your 7 euro per person, and head straight to Charles Fort. The small 4 euro charge almost seems like you're getting away with something, it's that worth it.) We spent about 3 hours wandering the fort and took over 1000 pictures. Charles Fort was built in the 1670s and 1680s in a star fortification design, so it was very hard to attack by cannon. British forces occupied it for several hundreds of years only recently put it out of use in 1922 (ok not THAT recently, but when we're talking about many centuries of use, 1922 seems not too long ago!), after the Irish Civil War. The whole place was just stunning - old stone on bright green grass, overlooking deep blue ocean underneath a bright sky with big fluffy clouds. Our tummies started growling, so it was time to stop taking pictures and grab some food! We walked 200 yards down the road to a place called The Bullman for fish and chips and played fetch with the local pup before our short walk back to town.
For our visit in Kinsale, we stayed at a beautiful little cottage owned by Airbnb host Sinead. Her spare room was bright, cheery, and comfortable! We enjoyed her company, and that of her adorable 13 year old puppy named Lady, and had a wonderful time getting to know one of the locals. On our first night, she recommended we try out a restaurant called The Shack for dinner. We ordered her favorite dishes there - the bleu cheese burger and enchiladas! So now in the last 72 hours we've had burgers and Mexican food - we're doing really well immersing ourselves in "local cuisine"! And I must say- it was all delicious!
The second night we took it easy and decided to grab take out sandwiches from a place called The Pantry, and headed out later to get sense of the nightlife in Kinsale. Since this is a summer town, things were still a bit quiet, but we did find live music and a pretty full bar at Kitty O'Se's. We had a blast listening to the bartender, Sean, tell jokes ("So 2 jump leads [jumper cables, I learned], walked into a bar. They ordered a couple of beers from the bartender. The bartender looked at them and said, "Ok, but just don't start anything!"…") Perhaps Sean should stick to his day job! Actually, Sean is a very busy guy- he tends the bar at night, works as a carpenter in his spare time, is a youth leader at his church, and is almost done getting his bachelor's in biopharmaceuticals. When we asked what he wants to do with his degree he said "probably nothing. I want to open a bar and name it after myself, Lynch's or Sean Lynch". Lynch! He's a Lynch! Of course he is, I think a third of the Irish are of Lynch ancestry. Of course I told him we're probably distant relatives as my grandmother was Eileen Lynch, born in Dublin. He said yes, many Lynch's were born there, but most of them are from Galway. It was fun to think that I could be talking to a long lost relative.
We finished up our beers (I have recently discovered that I love Guinness! I always hated it in the US, but out of the kegs here this stuff is AMAZING). And headed back to our Kinsale home. In the morning we had a lovely breakfast chatting with Sinead and then jumped in the car to start Part 3 of our Irish Adventure - the Ring of Kerry, Kenmare, and Dingle. More on that to come!