Written by travel  |  27. August 2004

Ireland? Gourmet? Well if you think that's an oxymoron, you haven't been to the Emerald Isle lately. Over the past decade, Irish cuisine has banished all the jokes and has taken its place among Europe's finest, especially when it comes to fresh and expertly cooked seafood. Leading the way in this transformation was the tiny County Cork village of Kinsale, on Erin's southern coast. The Annual Fine Food Festival in early April, teamed with its sister city of Newport, Rhode Island, has entries from the village's finest chefs, and draws gourmets from around the world. A similar festival, in Newport, is held each year in early March. As in Paris, you almost can't go wrong walking into any restaurant in Kinsale, but a good way to go is the "Dine Around" plan of the Kinsale Good Food Circle, which includes more than half a dozen restaurants of various cuisine styles. You can sign up for the plan at the local tourist office. A special treat is the historic "White House," probably, for obvious reasons, the most photographed restaurant name in town. But it's more than a curiosity, because the meals there are truly memorable. Kinsale has other treats besides the food, and topping that list is the golfing. The challenging Old Head Golf Course, hugging sea cliffs along the coast, is an amazing venue that attracts golfers from all over. Then there's the boating, which makes sense in a seafood center. There are plenty of sailing challenges as well on County Cork's rugged and windswept coastline. As anywhere in Ireland, don't forget the history. Desmond Castle is a "don't miss" for history buffs, and an added attraction is the fact that it houses the International Museum of Wine. And for a moving experience, climb through the ruins of the Thirteenth Century Franciscan Abbey in the nearby village of Timoleague. For further information on this fascinating town, contact the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism at www.kinsale.ie, or log on to www.tourismireland.com. Enjoy!

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