A lot of these posts will start with ‘I have never been..’ but that’s why I want to make the effort to go to these places and tell you guys all about it! I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, I did no research beforehand because I was going with my boyfriend Adam who has been there twice before.
The drive to Kinsale is very popular as many people choose to live in Kinsale, as it’s known for being a very beautiful town, and commute to Cork city. This means that there’s a lot of traffic so if you get stuck in a line of cars about 10 long, don’t worry, it’s normal. It will slow down the pace a little but all in all, Kinsale is not very far away, about 35-40 minutes in a car.
One thing I would point out is that the signage to Charlesfort when coming from the Cork side of Kinsale is non-existent. Adam was busy messing with the camera and not paying attention so I ended up driving through Kinsale town, realising we were going to the wrong way, and then driving back through Kinsale town (which on a sunny Sunday is no easy feat). When coming out of Kinsale town there’s a big sign on the right side of the road about 2km from the town (there’s no writing on the reverse or ‘Cork’ side which is why you should be extra aware when driving from Cork city direction).
If you are using public transport, here is a PDF of the bus timetable from Cork city to Kinsale http://www.buseireann.ie/timetables/1425471772-226.pdf There is no public transport available to take you from Kinsale to Charles fort but there is a really nice walk from the town you can make, it’s about 40 mins around part of the harbour.
Screenshot of the route from Google Maps
Once you reach Charles fort there’s a nice walk/hike behind the fort. It’s totally free and stretches up along the coast. It’s quite windy along parts so even on a sunny day in Ireland (the day we were down there it was 17 degrees) I would still recommend a jacket.
The ‘entrance’ so to speak of the walk behind Charlesfort
I would really recommend the walk, it’s a very beautiful piece of coastline and there are also signs dotted along the way with information about Charlesfort.
View of Charlesfort from the walk
After we had gone for a walk to wake us up after the drive we tackled the fort.
Charlesfort from the air
Charlesfort is a star shaped fort on the edge of the water built in the 1670’s/1680’s. The fort was used as a British Army barracks and was handed back to Ireland in 1921. If you like military history this is really the place for you.
Entry to the fort is 4e for an adult, 2e for a child. Other prices, opening times and important information for visiting the site (e.g. footwear) is available here http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/charlesfort/
We bought our tickets and the staff are really great for giving you and overview of the fort as well as the best route to go to see everything.
Trying to make new friends again
We were recommended to walk an anti-clockwise route around the fort, you’ll do two loops; one of the lower buildings and then one on the bastions.
Here you’ll find exhibits about the history of Charlesfort from when it was built to when it was occupied by the British Army.
This is the gunpowder store. It’s very cool inside with an inbuilt natural ventilation system. There are also more photos of members of the British Army who stayed in the barracks.
At the end of the lower loop around the barracks, there was a tea room, it’s really good value and all of the stuff is homemade. Adam and I were dying for tea so we had to stop.
After we went up to the higher loop around the bastions. The views were unreal but it was fair chilly (deffo bring a jacket if you’re going).
The one really handy piece of information I want to share is that this site, as well as hundreds of other sites around Ireland, are managed by the OPW (Office of Public Works). The OPW has an offer that if you are interested in visiting several sites during the year you can buy a heritage card. I think it’s well worth the investment, an adult is 25e for the year, a child or student 10e and a family 60e. As my dad would say ‘that’s a bargain’.
Heritage Ireland have their own site where you can find all their sites for the various provinces, opening times and loads more info that’s essential for visiting. Here’s the link