Kaleidoscopic Kinsale

Fushia. Lemon. Crimson. Robin’s egg blue. The houses and shops in Kinsale form kaleidoscopic rows down to the harbor. Kinsale’s safe natural bay offers protection form the roaring Atlantic and it’s location is a convenient launching point to the British Isles. Thus, Kinsale’s history is one of occupation. The Spanish tried to hold the port, but the English maintained command until Ireland’s independence. The British influence is noticeable in the architecture, and also in the enormous forts that sit atop the hills at the neck of the bay.

When we arrived to Kinsale last Thursday, we were treated to a delightful history tour about the city, which included stops at the Spanish ship monument, the unknown graves of Lusitania passengers, and Desmond Castle where several American privateers were kept. Fascinating history and stories of local heroes like the Kinsale giant made for a wonderful morning under the bright blue sky, and just when we started to get hungry, the tour ended at Fishy Fishy.

Fishy Fishy is a world renowned, Michelin starred restaurant, owned by Martin and Marie Shanahan. Even with a stunning reputation, I was a bit nervous to dine there because for the first time in my life I ordered fish. I had never enjoyed eating fish before this trip, but I was determined to give Fishy Fishy a try, so I ordered the fish and chips. (Chips in Ireland are similar to the American steak fry. Everything comes with chips here!) Well, the fish was amazing. The quality was excellent, and the balance of tangy, bitter, salty, sour, and sweet flavors of the lemonade, fish, tartar sauce, chips, and other condiments was amazing. If you ever go to Kinsale, I highly recommend Fishy Fishy! But Kinsale is also noted as the gourmet capitol of Ireland, so really any place you eat will probably be fantastic! After some window shopping and touring the Kinsale Museum, I tried honeycomb ice cream – also delicious – and then our group went to St. Charles Fort, one of the remaining forts that perches atop the neck of the bay.

What a view.

The sun was shining, the water sparkled, and the grass blew in the gentle breeze. The view was spectacular. Friends, it’s hard to express how incredible Kinsale is on a sunny day. Several hours overlooking the ocean wasn’t enough, but I’m not sure that any amount of time would have sufficed.

The trip to Kinsale was sponsored by a generous OU donor. Without his donation, I would not have experienced one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever seen, and I‘m so thankful for his insight into the gems of Ireland and Irish history.

Superlatives withstanding, June 12, 2014 was one of the best days of my life. And it didn’t end with Kinsale.

One hobby that not many know I enjoy is gardening. Tilling, sowing, weeding, harvesting, ahhh. It’s peace to my soul. It’s possible that I should have majored in botany, but it’s too late now. I’m really enjoying my Letters degree and graduation is quickly approaching! Back to the story. After leaving Kinsale, we went to Gort Na Nain, an organic farm and guesthouse owned by Ultan and Lucy.

Ultan gave us a tour of the gardens and answered our countless farming questions, and then we all joined Lucy in their kitchen for tea and cakes. Ultan and Lucy are incredibly knowledgeable, but their hospitality and general warmth was even more impressive. The picturesque farm was wonderful and I got to tromp gleefully around a garden. The entire day was so much fun and full of interesting information!!

Pictures to come soon! Cheers!