Kinsale Is Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town

Kinsale is Ireland's Most Enterprising Town, a major win for the colorful town on Ireland's south coast.
A colorful building in Kinsale. Photo: Tim Thompson for Tourism Ireland.

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So say the judges who handed out the 2020 Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards.

The town was among the many entrants from across the country competing in the contest, previously known as the National Enterprise Town Awards.

a harbor with boats Kinsale is Ireland's most enterprising town
The view of Kinsale from mouth of the River Bandon. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The town received a cash prize of €50,000 and a trophy for its “Kinsale Comeback” campaign, a marketing effort to attract domestic tourists in 2020.

The other winning towns, including the town of Kinsale, were recognized for their ability to come together and to support local recovery and rebuilding efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other towns across Ireland that were recognized included:

  • Towns with under 2,000 people: Winner: Clonbur, Co. Galway; Runner-Up: Cahirsiveen, Co. Kerry.
  • Towns with a population between 2,001 and 4,000: Winner: Carndonagh, County Donegal; Runner-Up: Kilrush, Co. Clare.
  • Towns with a population between 4,001 and 7,000: Kinsale, Co. Cork; Runner-Up: Blessington, Co. Wicklow.
  • Towns with a population between 7,001 and 14,000: Winner: Ballina, Co. Mayo; Runner-Up: Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
  • Towns with a population of more than 14,000: Winner: Ennis, Co. Clare; Runner-Up: Sligo, County Sligo.
  • City Award: Winner: Newry City, Co. Down; Runner-Up: Grafton Quarter, Dublin City Center.
  • Rising Star Award: Winner: Tallaght, Co. Dublin; Runner-Up: Carlow, Co. Carlow.

A number of community and business enterprise initiatives, especially those that are targeted to the Covid-19 crisis, were recognized in several towns across the island of Ireland.

They included projects in New Ross, Co. Wexford; Clonakilty, Co. Cork; Dromore, Co. Down; Granard, Co. Longford; Tramore, Co. Waterford, and Inchicore/Kilmainham, Dublin City.

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Kinsale, the Gateway to West Cork

If you want to explore the beautiful West Cork region, you should first begin your adventure in Kinsale, which is about 16 miles (25 km) from Cork City.

The town is also either the beginning or the end (whichever you choose) of the very popular Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500-km (1,500-mile) coastal route that includes Counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork.
Kinsale is Ireland's Most Enterprising Town. Pictured here are some of its colorful buildings. Photo: Jenifoto for Getty Images.

Its colorful houses on Milk Street, together with lively pubs and some great restaurants have made this Co. Cork town a favorite stop for both domestic and international tourists.

During the summer months, yachting is popular as is sea kayaking.

a lighthouse Kinsale is Ireland's most enterprising town
The golf course at the Old Head of Kinsale. Photo: LC Lambrecht for Failte Ireland.

Golf is also a much sought-after pastime.

A popular course with tourists is the spectacular 18-hole Old Head Golf Links, with green fees running at €375 during the high season and €225 during the low season.

The nearby Kinsale Golf Club, also an 18-hole course, is more affordable, with green fees of €40 during the week and €50 on the weekends.

There are also several art galleries in the town that are worth checking out.

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Kinsale’s History

There’s plenty of history here, too.

The town’s sheltered harbor was particularly attractive to invaders like the Anglo-Normans who seized the opportunity to displace the local Irish population in the 13th century and create a medieval walled town.

Kinsale became an important port and the new arrivals forged trade links between England and mainland Europe, importing wine and other goods.

a harbor at dusk Kinsale is Ireland's most enterprising town
Kinsale Port as it looks today. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A crucial, history-changing event that took place around Kinsale was the Battle of Kinsale, when in 1601, Ulster’s Gaelic chieftains, with help from Spain, battled it out against the British.

The chieftains lost against England, which meant the end of the old Gaelic way of life.

The British, however, feeling vulnerable against foreign powers, decided to build two forts near Kinsale.

a ruined castle Kinsale is Ireland's most enterprising town
James Fort, Kinsale. Photo: The Speckled Bird, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The construction of James Fort, named after James I of England and VI of Scotland, began in 1602 and was completed in 1607.

It is considered a National Monument and is open to visitors. Admission is free.
The seaward Devils Bastion and lighthouse of the 17th Century Charles Fort, with Kinsale boatyard in the background. Photo: Courtesy Cahir Davitt / Davitt Photography for Failte Ireland.

The second fortification known as Charles Fort was completed in 1682 and is located at Summers Cove, which is on the harbor side of the town.

It is one of the country’s largest military installations and is a fascinating place to visit.

While much of it is in ruins, the former commander’s quarters are still intact and are now the home of an exhibition center.

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