The Old Head of Kinsale, (in Irish, An Seancheann) is a headland near Kinsale, County Cork. An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century by Robert Reading. It is notable for being the nearest land point to the site of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.
Today the Old Head of Kinsale is popular with golfers who come to play on its 18 Hole golf course that opened in 1997.
Since the golf course opened, access to the Old Head of Kinsale has been restricted to golfers and guests only, and there has been a long-running campaign for the restoration of public access organised by the Free the Old Head of Kinsale Campaign. This campaign has mainly taken the format of "People's Picnics", some of them involving "incursions" onto the headland and holding the picnics at the Old Head lighthouse.
The Old Head's transformation from public beautyspot to private golf course has been controversial. It is rumoured that to get planning permission for the golf course, the owner had to allow the public access but since 1997 very few general public are allowed on the course. The golf course has also been criticised for being elitist and is one of the most expensive golf courses in Ireland.
The old head of Kinsale was formed by differential erosion. An outcrop of hard sandstone is lodged between two layers of shale. The shale is eroded by marine action at a faster rate than the sandstone. The sandstone anticlines were much more resistant to erosion than the slate filled synclines. Thus over time the headland was formed.