This star-shaped military fortress was constructed between 1677 and 1682, during the reign of King Charles II, to protect the town and harbour of Kinsale in County Cork. William Robinson, architect of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham Dublin, and Superintendent of Fortifications, is credited with designing the fort.
Charles Fort was garrisoned by the British Army until 1922. It overlooks the Old Head of Kinsale and the mouth of the Bandon river. Today, this formidable structure provides a platform to enjoy the breathtaking views of Kinsale town and harbour. In excess of 75,000 visitors a year enter via the drawbridge and step back in time to explore this ‘terror from the sea’. Commanding the seaward approach into Kinsale, Charles Fort is a five bastioned star shaped fort. This remarkable piece of military engineering was completed during the reign of King Charles II. Associated with some of the most momentous events in Irish history, Charles Fort was besieged in 1690 during the Williamite War and more recently in 1922 in the midst of the Irish Civil War. Good walking shoes are recommended as visitors will want to explore all 20 acres of one of the finest military installations within Ireland.
As one of the largest military forts in the country, Charles Fort has been associated with some of the most momentous events in Irish history. These include the Williamite War in 1690 and the Irish Civil War of 1922 – 23. Charles Fort remained garrisoned by the British army until 1922.
Open Year Round
Regular guided tours are available
Exhibition facilities on site
Tearooms open daily from May to September from 10:00am to 6:00pm
Tearooms open weekends only: April and October from 10:00am to 6:00pm
Perhaps the best-known historical attraction in Kinsale, Charles Fort, is on the road just beyond Summercove. It is open all year, and regular guided tours are available. Charles Fort is one of the finest surviving examples of a 17th Century star-shaped fort, and much of the construction begun in 1678 remains. The fort has two enormous bastions overlooking the estuary, and three facing inland. Within its walls were all the barracks and ancillary facilities to support the fort’s garrison. The fort continued in military use until 1922.
Charles Fort is a HSE registered location for Civil Wedding Ceremonies.
Visitors are advised to wear suitable footwear due to the uneven terrain and children must be accompanied at all times.
Language Guides are available and a language guidebook is also available in English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Dutch.