Heritage hot spots: History, nature, art, environment


CHARLES FORT: What is it?Charles Fort is the best-known historical attraction in Kinsale, Co Cork. Situated on the northern approach to Kinsale harbour, the star-shaped fortress is one of Ireland’s finest examples of 17th-century fortification.

Why visit? The stone fort shows the defence strategies of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It has two enormous bastions facing the estuary and three facing inland. It also contains a barracks and other buildings added in the 18th century, when Kinsale was an important naval and merchant-shipping base. It continued to be used as a military base until the British withdrew in 1921. During the Civil War, many of the buildings were destroyed, and it remained in decay until it was taken over as a national monument in 1973 and restored.

A multimedia exhibition focuses on the history of Charles Fort; you can also take a guided tour.

Why now?Charles Fort will be the site of a visual-arts installation during Kinsale Arts Festival (July 7th to 15th). Entitled Living in the Ice Age, the video installation by the French artist Thomas Leon invites people to consider how ghostly memories of abandoned buildings can coexist with architecture of steel and glass. It’s open from 10am to 5pm during the festival, with an admission fee.

Children can make jelly models of Charles Fort as part of Jelly Town, a series of workshops led by A2 Architects, PAC studios and the architectural student Jennifer Kingston. Children can also join workshops to create an uplit jelly model of Kinsale town. These workshops are at Temperance Hall, Kinsale, on July 7th and 8th. €5 per child. See kinsaleartsfestival.comfor full programme details.

How do I get there?Charles Fort is 2.5km from Kinsale on the coast road past Summercove. You can also get there on foot by following the coastal Scilly walk. This takes 30-40 minutes. There is another nice walk beyond the fort towards the headland. Charles Fort is open 10am-6pm daily. Admission €4 adults, €3 senior citizens and €2 children/students; heritageireland.ie; 021-4772263.

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