DENNIS Collins has been living in Kinsale for the past 37 years, although he jokes that he is probably “still considered a blow-in”.
A busy man, he works in DePuy Synthes in Ringaskiddy, while also running a garment printing company called The Print Den with his fiancée Aisling.
He’s a local DJ — currently behind the decks at Hamlets — and is fully immersed in the town’s life as the administrator of the Kinsale Noticeboard on Facebook.
If that wasn’t enough, he is also on the cusp of launching a new business venture (more of which later) and is father to Ailin, aged four, and Keena, aged two, who keep him busy exploring the great outdoors.
One of his frequent family outings is on the stunning Scilly walk, which takes you to Summer Cove with panoramic views from the inner harbour all the way out to Charles Fort. The Scilly walk can be found by exiting the town and walking towards the Man Friday restaurant and continuing on.
“Scilly walk is perfect for kids of all ages and is great for using their bikes or scooters safely,” Dennis says.
In his words, “if you want to go hard-core”, you can then continue up to Charlesfort and take another splendid walk from there along the coast towards Lower Cove.
“This walk is a little bit of a hike and maybe one for kids but not toddler-friendly,” he advises.
If you have the time and energy to explore further, Dennis has more suggestions.
“There is another lovely walk from the town to James Fort which is close to the local beach called The Dock, a clean and safe family-friendly beach. Walk up the hill behind and you’re on the grounds of James Fort. It’s really untouched; it’s stunning the views you get of the harbour and of the town, it’s a hidden gem to be honest with you.
“A picnic is ideal on the grounds of James Fort, or there’s a fantastic cafe on the pier called Food U, should you come back hungry or thirsty from your walk.”
Even if you don’t go on any of the breath-taking coastal walks, you can spend hours wandering the colourful streetscape, where there are generally unexpected delights around every corner. And now, with outdoor dining reintroduced, some of those delights are of a culinary nature.
Kinsale is considered by many to be the gourmet capital of Ireland and eateries such as Fishy Fishy, Finn’s Farmcut, Cosy Café and Lemon Leaf are all happy to be back serving customers al fresco. Meanwhile, we all fell in love with mobile food and coffee trucks during lockdown and Nag’s Head by the Perryville Hotel is one of the options for coffee and toasties on the go.
The winding streets will also offer up fantastic shopping opportunities with independent boutiques, arts and crafts, jewellers and bookstores all to be found along the way.
Surrounded by the sea, you’ll undoubtedly be tempted to leave terra firma behind at some stage and get on the water. Again, Dennis has the answers: “You can do a boat tour off the pier with Kinsale Harbour Cruises, which runs daily through the summer, or you can charter a yacht for the day with Sovereign Sailing.”
In addition, Ocean Addicts provides diving and snorkelling opportunities, while Atlantic Offshore Adventures is a mobile adventure activity provider based in and around Kinsale, providing courses and rentals in stand up paddle boarding, surfing and kayaking.
Furthermore, Dennis has established a new business to explore Kinsale in a unique way through first person view (FPV) drone goggles. Wild Atlantic Drone Tours — to be launched before the end of the summer — will give people the chance to explore the renowned coastline without ever setting foot on the water.
“When I saw that you could broadcast a drone signal to multiple sets of goggles, I thought how amazing it would be to give somebody the sensation of flying,” he says.
“I want the drone tours to give anyone who’s visiting here an experience they haven’t had anywhere else in the world and I also hope the local people see Kinsale in a way they’ve never seen before.
“The flight would last approximately 12 minutes and you’d get a real-time birds’ eye view. Every trip is unique. You’d get a perspective you’d never get really — unless you’re a bird!”
Kinsale’s beaches are more popular than ever, with Sandycove approximately 5km away, and Garretstown and Garylucas beaches around 10km from the town.
Weekend traffic has been very busy of late so if you want a quiet swim maybe choose mid-week.
Mind you, Sundays in Kinsale were quite special last year, with a family day on pedestrianised streets, organised by Kinsale Chamber of Commerce.
“It was like a holiday atmosphere. It was a nice break from what was going on mentally for people,” says Dennis, who maintains that we can expect a similar experience this summer.
Arrive to Kinsale any Wednesday morning to avail of the farmers’ market in the main car park on the left as you enter the town, and also keep an eye out in that vicinity for a large Kinsale mural — a popular backdrop for selfies — created by visual artist Audrey Cantillon.
Another idea is to plan your visit to take in Kinsale Arts Weekend from July 9 – 12.
Adhering to physical distancing, the festival will focus on drive-in outdoor theatre events as well as special fun events for children. ‘Art in the Windows’ will also return in an effort to flood the town with creativity.
If you wish to have a quiet, respectful moment, a very special but lesser known spot is the Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance, established by a Kinsale native, the late Kathleen Murphy, who had a long nursing career in New York City.
Following the Twin Towers attack, she devised a memorial on her land at Ringfinnan, Kinsale, dedicated to the 343 fire fighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. A tree has been planted for each of the firemen, as well as one for their chaplain, Father Mychal Judge.
Finally, a few last tips from Dennis, who is fond of early morning strolls: “The harbour can be good for the soul when taken in while the birds are still singing their morning songs.”
And later in the day?
“You could rent bikes and fishing rods from Mylie Murphy’s on Pearse Street and head over to the bridge to catch a bit of lunch or dinner!”
Spoken like a true non-blow-in.
Catch up on the Come To My Town series at EchoLive.ie