Kinsale was already a thriving fishing center and market town when the Anglo-Normans drove the Irish out and built a fortified castle there in the 13th century. It remained the headquarters of a large fishing fleet during the days of sailing ships and is still one of the best places to eat fresh seafood in Ireland.
If you have never tried monkfish, this is a great place to sample some. It is a firm textured-fish that might remind you of lobster. Of course, you can also find plenty of lobster in Kinsale during the lobster season.
Along with my Irish monkfish, I got a pot of Irish mussels cooked Thai-style.
I sampled these and much more at Kinsale's famous Fishy Fishy restaurant, where I met up with Martin Shanahan, the nation's most famous seafood cook.
Three decades ago, Shanahan perfected his kitchen chops as a chef in a high dollar San Francisco restaurant. On returning home to Ireland, he opened a tiny fishmonger's stall and seafood cafe he called Fishy Fishy. It was a runaway success.
The enterprise expanded into the current impressive waterfront location; fame begat the Fishy Fishy cookbook and two popular Irish television series: Martin's Mad about Fish and Martin's Still Mad about Fish.
Fishy Fishy is a wonderful restaurant, but it is just the tip of an impressive culinary iceberg.
Kinsale is also blessed with the likes of Finn's Table, bastion, and Nine Market Street for hip upscaled menus; Dino's for high quality fish & chips, and many more excellent eateries.
For breakfast, don't miss the Lemon Leaf Cafe and their awesome Eggs Florentine with farmhouse eggs and fresh spinach. (Son Joe was more impressed with the American-style pancakes.)
2018 will mark the 42nd year of the Kinsale Gourmet Festival--the festival finale is the Fruits de Mer Luncheon on October 13th.
More and more savvy travelers are discovering this quintessential Irish fishing village because it is the first stop on the newly created and very popular "Wild Atlantic Way," the scenic route that follows Ireland's Left Coast all the way up to Belfast. Unless, of course, you start in Northern Ireland and head south, in which case it is the last stop. Whatever your direction, food lovers won't want to miss Kinsale.