County Cork Feature

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The Battle of Kinsale

Before Kinsale became the foodie capital of Ireland, it was chiefly famous for the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, when the Irish and the Spanish joined forces against the English—and lost. As generations of Irish schoolchildren could tell you, the Battle of Kinsale was a turning point in Irish history. It precipitated an event known as "the Flight of the Earls" (the subject of Brian Friels' play Making History), in which the Irish aristocracy left for Europe to seek help from the Catholic king of Spain. The Irish earls never returned, leaving their lands to be colonized by the English settlers, who also filled the power vacuum created by their absence. The Spanish influence that can be traced back to this battle can be seen in Kinsale's older houses, which have slate roofs and unusual slate fronts. Because of its geographical position—approximately 800 km (500 miles) of open sea due north of La Coruña—Kinsale continued to trade with Spain, and even today, Spanish trawlers fish in the waters off the coast of County Cork. Kinsale went on to become an important fishing port as well as a British army and naval base.

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