Sunday, May 8, 2011

12th century meets 21st century...

view from Compass Hill
Today was one of the prettiest days we've had since arriving in Ireland. Graced with sunshine all day, we barely noticed the 30 mph gusts as we traversed the charming village of Kinsale. The earliest records show that a small walled area was founded as the town of Kinsale in the 12th century by the Anglo-Normans. Portions of the original walls still survive in different areas of the village. In 1666 it was described as "one of the most significant harbours in Europe", trading in wine and in salt.

the never-ending stairs

Compass Hill is an excellent vantage point to see over the harbor.  Where sailboats and yachts now dominate the scene, hundreds of fishing boats used to anchor, delivering their cargoes of mackerel and herring.  Old stone walls, and narrow winding streets with colorful shops and houses, along with road grades of around 80 degrees in some places, made for interesting exploration. Not to mention the neverending stairs...but I digress.

Desmond Castle

Desmond Castle, a 16th century customs house, and also a residence, was used as an arms store by the Spanish in 1601,and to house French captives in the 18th century. It is now the International Museum of Wine.

Lord Kingsale Pub

After our extensive walking we decided to pop in to the Lord Kingsale Pub, where I had my very first Guinness.  It was delicious! The pub takes its name from the first Anglo-Norman baron who took charge of this Irish port in 1223. It was clean, cozy, and a very comfortable place to rest our feet and refresh ourselves.

Tomorrow, we visit the English Market, here in Cork, before traveling to Killarney, and another new adventure.