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Kinsale Museum To Re-open And New Plan for Desmond Castle

Writes Leo McMahon

Kinsale Regional Museum is due to open next month, new signs and a map for the 1601 Battle of Kinsale are coming on stream and Desmond Castle, when reopened, could possibly become an interpretative centre about the battle, members of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District (MD) were told at their June meeting.

MD officer Enda O’Halloran reported that under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the windows of the Museum in the 17th century former Market House and Town Hall were replaced along with other repairs and it was due to reopen in July. 

Although there was already a Battle of Kinsale interactive display in the museum, executive engineer Brendan Fehily had written to the Office of Public Works (OPW) suggesting Desmond Castle house as a stand alone Battle of Kinsale heritage centre and a response was awaited.

Kinsale Museum

Chairperson Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said animated reality displays were popular and should be considered. Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) agreed. Mr. O’Halloran reported that work had begun on the Battle of Kinsale tourist maps as part of a collaboration between the MD, the County Archaeologist and Kinsale History Society and was being funded through the MD’s General Municipal Allowance (GMA).

‘The maps will be similar to the Historic Town Maps and will give information on all the sites of the battle as well as background to it. A first draft has been produced but there is still plenty of editing to do,’ he stated adding that he hoped to have a copy for the next MD meeting.

Signs Stolen

Mr. O’Halloran reported that seven of the eleven large Battle of Kinsale signs around the town were stolen two to three years ago and despite the best efforts of Gardai were never recovered.

‘Members agreed to fund their replacement through the MD’s General Municipal Allocation and various options were looked at. The original signs were put up in the 1960s and much of the archaeology since then has changed the location of some sites. The process of making the original cast aluminium signs is no longer done in Ireland and to make similar signs would eat up more of our budget. Furthermore, some of the locations where the signs had been, are dangerous junctions where it is not safe for a car to pull in’.

Working with the County Archaeologist and Kinsale Local History Society, said the MD officer, it was decided to reduce the number of signs to seven and pick safer locations.

‘We plan to erect an initial sign at Charles Fort this summer, similar to the Lusitania sign at the Old Head of Kinsale. Catherine O’Callaghan of the County Architect’s Department is designing it. The signs will fit in with what we are doing with the Battle of Kinsale maps’, he stated.

Cllr Murphy welcomed the report but said it was unfortunate and embarrassing that this was revealed by someone on social media before councillors were notified and took exception to this.

In reply to Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG), clerical officer Claire Levis said a new Spanish flag would be put up by the 1601 plaque near Charles Fort.

Replacement of the signs, said Cllr Murphy was long overdue while Cllr Coleman suggested the three original ones that were salvaged should go on display in Charles Fort or Desmond Castle for posterity because these were of high quality and history in themselves.

Mr. Fehily said the Battle of Kinsale could be a huge tourism product for the locality and assured members that efforts were being made in conjunction with other bodies to achieve this through maps, signs and best use of historic buildings.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) proposed the MD formally write to the OPW about the desirability of using Desmond Castle as an interpretative centre for the Battle of Kinsale. She asked for a report about the condition and whereabouts of certain artifacts in the museum and if there is an inventory because concern has been expressed to her about this. Mr O’Halloran said the museum was due to re-open in July.

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