Kinsale is a fishing village in County Cork, Ireland. Located some 25 km south of Cork City on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and has a population of 2,257 which increases substantially during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak and when the boating fraternity arrive in large numbers. The April 2006 census recorded that British nationals made up 9% of the town's population.
Kinsale is a popular holiday resort for Irish and foreign tourists. Leisure activities include yachting, sea angling, and golf. The town also has several art galleries and a school of English. The town is compact with a quaint air of antiquity in the narrow streets. There is a large yachting marina close to the town centre.
The town is known for its restaurants, and holds an annual "Gourmet Festival". Chef Keith Floyd was previously a resident of Kinsale.
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. These Town Commissioners became the Kinsale Council under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. In 2011, Phil Hogan, the Fine Gael Minister for the Environment and Local Government announced that the Kinsale Town Council would be abolished in 2014, along with all other town councils in Ireland. This will be the first time in nearly 700 years that Kinsale will be left without its own elected local council.
In 1601, Kinsale was the site of a battle in which English forces defeated an Irish/Spanish force, led by the princes Hugh Roe O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neill. Following this battle the Flight of the Earls occurred in which a number of the native Irish aristocrats, including the Earls of Tyrone and Tir Conaill, abandoned their lands and fled to mainland Europe.
Charles Fort, located at Summer Cove and dating from 1677, is a bastion-fort that guards the entrance to Kinsale harbour. It was built to protect the area and specifically the harbour from use by the French and Spanish in the event of a landing in Ireland. James's Fort is located on the other side of the cove, on the Castlepark peninsula. An underwater chain used to be strung between the two forts across the harbour mouth during times of war to scuttle enemy shipping by ripping the bottoms out of incoming vessels.
When the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915, some of the bodies and survivors were brought to Kinsale and the subsequent inquest on the bodies recovered was held in the town's courthouse. A statue in the harbour commemorates the effort.