If you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll be thinking I’ve moved to Kinsale, as this is about the third week in a row that it features in Thursday Doors. I’ve included the building above in a previous post but this photograph was shot from a much better angle to show off its lovely quirkiness. A friend from America has been staying with us (hi Dana) and I thought it quite appropriate that we were standing at one point just in front of the White House.
I just love the little blue cottage in this slideshow, with its tiny yellow windows and the fact that it has a big name for such a little house.
We had a lovely lunch in Jim Edwards, a place we hadn’t eaten in before, but our friend had been there on her last trip to Ireland and recommended it. The Armada Bar looked tempting, too, but we hadn’t time to stop for a Guinness as there were lots more doors to capture, plus a castle at the top of the street that I was itching to explore.
Desmond Castle was built by the 9th Earl of Desmond (Maurice Bacach Fitzgerald) about 1500. An urban tower house, it’s three stories high with outhouses at the rear. At one time the castle served as a prison but it was originally built as a customs house. It was used as an ordnance store during the Battle of Kinsale (1601) and during the Great Hunger it became a workhouse.
‘In the 17th century the castle became popularly known as the “French prison” and was used for prisoners of war, most of whom were captured at sea. The majority of the prisoners were French, but many nationalities were ransomed or exchanged for their British counterparts. Some prisoners were housed in nearby huts, and the conditions were grim, with overcrowding, lack of food, starvation and disease. A disastrous fire in 1747 killed 54 prisoners.
During the American War of Independence, the crews of many American vessels were held prisoner in Kinsale in poor conditions. Help came from Rev. William Hazlett, a Presbyterian Minister in nearby Bandon, and from Reuben Harvey, a Quaker merchant in Cork. Through their influence conditions were improved. In 1783, George Washington thanked Harvey for “his exertions in relieving the distresses of such of our fellow citizens as were prisoners in Ireland”. *
Nowadays, the castle hosts an International Museum of Wine Exhibition that documents the history of Ireland’s wine links with Europe and the rest of the world. You might have heard tell of The Wild Geese. Originally, these were approximately 30,000 Irish soldiers who left Ireland in 1691 with their leader, Patrick Sarsfield. They had fought the army of William of Orange to a standstill and were given the option of sailing to France. Having negotiated a treaty guaranteeing the rights of their people, Patrick Sarsfield and his soldiers submitted to exile in France. Once they were gone, the Treaty was torn up and replaced by the Penal Laws, stripping Irish Catholics of their land and denying them any right of citizenship.
Because of this injustice, young Irishmen made their way to France to join its army and for almost a hundred years there was an Irish Brigade in the French forces. It is thought at least half a million Irishmen died serving France in the century after the violation of the Treaty of Limerick. French ships smuggled brandy and wine to the west coast of Ireland, then departed with recruits for the Irish Brigade. In the ships’ paperwork these passengers were listed as Wild Geese and this is how the name came about. In time, some of them entered the wine trade and are often referred to as the Irish Wine Geese. Their descendants today can be found all over the world.
Robinson Crusoe is also linked to Kinsale, as Don and Barry’s beautiful short video explains. Once you’ve seen the aerial footage of the town, you’ll understand why I visit so often.
I hope you enjoyed yet another trip to Kinsale. Next week, I’ll be posting a nostalgic Thursday Doors from the town. If you would like to explore some more doors from around the globe, have a look at Norm’s Blog and follow the link at the end of his post.