Cork is situated in the southern Ireland province of Munster Ireland's second largest city.. The city has a population of 119,143, so is quite a small city which gives it a lovely quaint feel and also quite friendly. The city's name is derived from an Irish word that means "marshy place". Cork is actually a series of marshy islands that have been built over to make the city. Many of the streets run along waterway paths that have been built over and turned into streets, with the river running beneath. As well as the many waterways Cork is distinguished by a large harbour, the world's second largest after Sydney, Australia. Naturally the harbour is a major seaport and the maritime history of the city is quite evident
How to Get There
You can fly to Cork from Stansted for 1p on Ryanair. Of course once you add the standard taxes and charges a return trip will cost between 40 and 50 pounds, but there are train trips in the UK that will cost you more than that. Cork airport is located about 15-20 minutes from the city centre. There are shuttle passes into the city, many going directly to hotels in the city. Of course you can take a taxi, which will cost around 10 Euros.
Things to Do
Cork is a pretty city, and there is plenty to do just looking around. We took a bus tour around the city which gave a really good overview of the city. The tour is one of those where you buy a day ticket and you can get on and off as often as you want. Highlights include Cork City Gaol, City Library, St. Finbarr's Cathedral, Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, the English Market, Cork Opera House, Custom House, The Courthouse and City Hall. The tour cost about 12 Euros, which is cheaper than getting around in a taxi.
After the tour we were keen to have a look at the old City Goal, and found it very interesting. It was originally a mixed prison and then just for women. It was closed in the early 1920's but today remains as a demonstration of how it used to be. The goal uses lots of wax models and has an audio accompaniment that give you a lot of interesting history and a good idea of what the goal was like.
We also had a look at the butter museum, which was actually more interesting then it sounds, and it is recommended by the Financial Times, or so they claimed. It certainly gave a lot of information showing how butter has been an important export for the area. We actually went in there because Cork weather is just like London weather, and it had changed from just about to rain to actually raining quickly, and we didn't feel like getting wet.
Another highlight was the English Market. It is a covered market that sells fish, fruit, meat and vegetable. The markets origins have been traced as far back as 1610, while the present building dates from 1786. Foods from all over the world as well as traditional Cork foods can be purchased here.
Cork is also located 8 kilometres from Blarney, home of the world famous Blarney Castle where you can kiss the Blarney stone. You can also catch the train to Cobh, a great place if you want to trace a genealogical history of a family member who has emmigrated from Ireland. Of the nearly 6 million people who left Ireland 2.5 million left from Cobh.
Cork is a city I had long fancied visiting without really knowing why and I was lucky enough to visit for a weekend break last December. Booking the flights and the accommodation was the only preparation we did so when we arrived in the city we had little idea of what we wanted to do and see.
Arriving late Friday afternoon and departing again Sunday lunchtime did not leave us with a great deal of time but we managed to cram in plenty of activity and found that there is still plenty left for another visit.
Join in my mini-tour of Cork .
Cork, like Britain, is pretty cold in December and so you will need to wrap up warm and be prepared to make regular stops for hot drinks or a pint whichever you find warms you best.
You will also need a pair of comfortable shoes; Cork has excellent public transport but in the city you may as well walk: although the centre is compact, there are a few hills.
It takes a little while to get your bearings in Cork; the city started life as an island in the swampy River Lee and today the river flows in two channels through the centre of the city. As a result you find that you are constantly crossing bridges and some of the main streets are even built over smaller sub-channels. On the north side, the streets start to climb the hill and if you are in bed and breakfast accommodation, you may find yourself climbing up several times a day as most of these establishments are in Victorian townhouses. The more affluent visitors will be pleased to know that the higher end hotels tend to be in the city centre which is flat.
Two distinctive churches make good reference points if you are struggling to get your bearings and are also worth visiting. St Finn Barres Cathedral is named for the seventh century St Finbarr who started a monastery on the site where the cathedral now stands. This French Gothic style cathedral is very striking with its three spires and its rose window; to see it looking particularly splendid, see it lit up at night a worthy rival to Notre Dame!
The other church is St Annes of Shandon and it stands to the north of the centre halfway up the hill. Its is constructed of two types of stone and the red and gray colours of the church are said to be the inspiration for the colours of Corks rugby strip. While it is a beautiful church, most visitors go there to play the bells; for a small charge you can climb the tower and catch magnificent views across the city but first you must stop at the first floor where the bell ropes are. Each rope is numbered and there are cards for a wide variety of songs and hymns. The easiest way to do it is to get someone else to shout the numbers out as you pull the ropes; I murdered Dont Cry for me Argentina.
Just opposite the pub is one of those traditional little Irish pubs tiny windows and bright paintwork and a chatty publican of course! He asked if we had been into the church and rung the bells and was full of interesting tips about what we should see and do. We made ourselves comfortable in a window seat and enjoyed a pint of Beamish, the delicious stout that is made in Cork.
We spent a short while strolling the streets in this part of town; they are the traditional Irish type with low doorways and narrow alleyways between the houses. Many of them are being restored and it is nice to see that, in spite of being very small, they are still popular.
Back in town we stumbled across the Old English Market, a covered food market of the kind that is missing from most British cities. We are both foodies and could spend hours wandering around food markets but this one in Cork is something else. It has fish, meat, fruit and vegetables as well as speciality shops selling things like imported Polish foods, Caribbean produce and Indian spices. We came away with venison salami, a huge Limoncello cake and another hot pepper sauce for my partners massive collection.
Cork has all the major chain stores you would expect of Irelands second city (that is in all Ireland it is third behind Dublin and Belfast) but ii also has some interesting independent stores. We found a Polish grocery store (we bought dried fish), a dedicated crime-fiction bookshop, a great shop selling the wittiest souvenirs I have ever seen (I couldnt resist a Peoples Republic of Cork t-shirt) and lots of shops selling traditional Irish musical instruments.
To be honest we did a great deal of walking and did not really venture into many places other than shops and pubs. However Cork is the sort of city that can be really enjoyed in this way. Following the river makes an excellent walk and you get to see plenty of interesting buildings on the way. We also saw a seal which is apparently a real rarity in Cork; it caused quite a crowd to assemble on one of the bridges but, alas, it was camera shy and by the time we had got out the camera, it had gone.
If wed had more time we would have found plenty of things to occupy us. We could have visited the Old City Gaol that gives visitors a glimpse into prison life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or we could have visited the Crawford Municipal Gallery that has permanent and temporary exhibitions of domestic and international art.
We ventured as far as the Botanic Gardens at the University but there are other parks and wildlife reserves close to the city too. If visiting in winter try to check with tourist information before you make your plans because some attractions do have limited opening hours outside of the peak season.
Corkonians are regarded as the most talkative and friendly of Irish people and we certainly felt very welcome everywhere we went. People wanted to know where we were from and always had something to say about their home city. For a small city Cork certainly has more than its fair share of places to eat and drink and I was amazed at the diversity. Over the two days we ate pizza, had a curry, drank sherry at a pretty authentic tapas bar enjoyed more Guinness than is decent in all kinds of pubs from the traditional to the very modern. Of course, the traditional are the best and we particularly liked the snug in Dan Lowerys, a small pub next to the theatre.
It is easy to find pubs playing live music, both modern and traditional; we enjoyed a U2 tribute band with a very memorable front man we referred to as Oh-no.
The only slightly negative thing I would say about Cork - and Ireland in general - is that eating out is expensive in Ireland, much more so than in the UK.
One thing you cannot fail to notice is the large number of non-Irish people living and working in Cork; the Polish community, especially, is very large and they have been welcomed warmly by their Irish hosts. I was struck by how cosmopolitan Cork is, very different from my expectations. I have to say that I found Cork to be very European in outlook and style. As someone who is a confirmed Europhile, I felt quite envious of the way the Irish have modernised and become very European without losing their traditional character; if only some of the narrow minded English who fear Europe so much would look at Ireland and see what is possible.
Another thing I really liked about Cork was that, although there were plenty of reminders that Christmas was just ten days away, everything was so tasteful and understated. The shops had simple and stylish window displays and people seemed to be enjoying browsing the small craft market at leisure rather than getting hot under the collar, losing their temper with the kids and hauling around twenty bags of shopping, and there weren't any of the massive queues that so depress me at home in December. It was all so civilised.
Cork is an exciting city with much to offer in terms of history, culture and shopping the perfect place for a short break. For a longer trip the coast and the countryside also have plenty to occupy visitors with nearby Kinsale and its castle and the town of Cobh from whence the Titanic left on its doomed voyage and where a visitor centre tells the story.
Recommended for people of all ages.
In order to see at least a few sights and to enjoy Corks warm hospitality I would suggest even a short visit needs at least three full days. I have only given an overview of Cork here and intend to review some of the attractions in more detail in the future.
I've heard that people have said that Cork is a somewhat similar place to Dublin, being Eire's second city and all that.. so after a particularly enjoyable trip to Dublin in November, myself and the other half decided that we would take ourselves off to Cork as a treat and to see what it had to offer people like us (in our 20's and who found Dublin a little expensive). We arrived early on a Saturday morning, into the tiny Cork Airport (which we later learned is undergoing a complete renovation with a new terminal scheduled to be built), and waited outside for the Bus Eireann service from the airport to the centre. This is a big coach which - at weekends - runs on the hour, and on the half hour in the week. The service was prompt, courteous and cheaper than a taxi into the centre (€5.50 - about £4 - per person for a month-long return). Singles into the centre were available at €3.40 (just over £2). It took about 20 minutes to get into the centre, and dropped us off at the bus station on Parnell Street. The bus also picks up from the same place at the bus station for the return journey. We only spent about 48 hours in Cork in total, so we obviously couldn't get to see and do everything. I'd actually recommend the city as a good base for exploring the beautiful surrounding villages in Southern Ireland - of course there's Blarney (and the castle with the infamous Blarney Stone), Midleton (for the Jameson factory - Irish whiskey production), but really, I think you'd need to hire a car to get out and about. To be honest, the two days we spent there were enough. The city centre of Cork itself is a lot smaller than I thought. There's one main street - St Patricks' Street, which is the main shopping thoroughfare and is a wide street similar to O'Connell Street in Dublin. Off St Patricks Street are many small lanes and streets which are worth exploring as they often contain little pubs, bars, rest
aurants and shops. At the top end of St Patricks Street lies the North Channel of the river Lee and Morrisons Quay (there's a lot of quays in Cork as the river Lee splits in two to form the north and south channel.. and the quays are mostly only one block long..), where there's a small shopping centre which was useful for escaping from the rain!! We downloaded some maps of the city centre before we went, and looking at the maps we wondered how we were going to get anywhere - the streets looked big and a lot of walking was going to be required! Don't let the maps fool you though - the streets really were a lot smaller than we'd anticipated - and in reality Cork was a lot smaller overall than we'd thought. We were staying on Merchants' Quay - on the south channel of the river (separate op to follow on the hotel), in the Comfort Inn hotel there. We found the tourist office - just off the bottom end of St Patricks Street, and this had a few free leaflets with suggestions of things to do. Be warned, however - most of the leaflets that are available there are charged for, although the women behind the desk were extremely helpful and were able to offer advice on transport, things to do and places to see. I was particularly interested in seeing the Beamish brewery, although we were told that it had 'closed for winter to tourists'. It soon became apparent that there were few things for tourists to do at this time of year. Cork seemed to be extremely quiet and although we attempted to walk to the city gaol (one of the main sights we wanted to see), after half an hour of walking we didn't seem to be any closer and a horrible hill loomed to walk up (living in Sheffield you'd think I would be used to hills!); and - defeated - we gave up and trundled back along the quaysides to St Patricks Street. Most of our time in Cork was spent either in the pub or in a restaurant - after all the aim of our visit was
to chill down and treat ourselves, and that we did. There are pubs aplenty over there - some are even next door to each other, and we spent a good deal of time deciding on our favourites out of the ones we'd tested. On Oliver Plunkett Street we tried the Old Oak, and the Traditional Music Inn - both of which were very cosy and dark, just right to relax and chill down in. The Traditional Music Inn could - I imagine - get cramped on an evening as it's a very small pub. We also tried one on the corner of MacCurtain Street whose name escapes me, but was full of locals wanting to watch the Saturday afternoon football. Our favourite though, and the biggest, was The Parnell, which is on Parnell street just down from the bus station - a big old pub with wooden flooring and wooden surrounds and some very comfy seating. Drinks aren't *that* cheap over there, however: we paid around €3.50 (£2.30) on average for a pint of lager or stout, which is about the same as most southern pub prices in the UK. For food, I will endeavour to write separate opinions, as the eateries we found deserve their own, but we ate at Isaac's Restaurant on MacCurtain St, Fellini's on Carey's Lane, and Cafe Mexicana on Carey's Lane. All provided good food, good service, with reasonable prices, and come highly recommended! Cork in January is really a very quiet time of year. If I'd gone to tour the area and find 'things to do', I would've been disappointed. However, for a competely relaxing and chilled-down weekend it was perfect. It's quiet, small, and plenty of places to eat and drink in. As a city centre I'm amazed that it's so tiny - on our last day we had a late flight and actually ran out of things to do and shops to visit in the centre after 4 hours. I found the people there quite polite and willing to help if you needed it. I liked the fact that everything in the centre turned out to be well within walking distance, a
lthough I found that there was scant information really on the 'touristy' areas and places like the gaol were poorly signposted. Also - a word of warning for anyone going in the near future (circa Feb '03): Cork's main drainage system is undergoing a complete overhaul, which meant that there were a lot of roadworks, and at times some funny pongs in the centre. It is anticipated that this will be complete by the summer of 2003. It meant that crossing roads could be difficult, and there were some noisy roadworks ongoing in St Patricks' Street which did get a little irritating. On the subject of crossing roads, another frustration of mine came when trying to cross normal roads at traffic lights. In Cork, there seems to be no logic in the flow of traffic, and this meant that pedestrians - if waiting for the 'green man' to signal it was safe to cross - would be waiting for up to 7 minutes (I kid you not). Also the traffic lights - if you choose to ignore the crossings and try and cross with the lights - do not follow a standard UK pattern. From red they change to green (no red-amber as a warning), so you can get halfway across a road and the traffic will start to move. The pedestrian crossings really were frustrating, although they do have a weird pulsing noise which isn't the same as the ones in Dublin, but which pulse quickly when the green man is on, then randomly slow down as the lights are about to change. You don't get much time to cross a road over there before the green man disappears either - so be quick!! Overall, I think that if I'd picked to go to Cork in the summer, I may have been a little more impressed with the city. Although I didn't go to see any of the 'touristy' things, and in reality it meant that I could explore more of Cork without that glossy touristy sheen, I still returned home thinking "I could've been in any city this weekend". That isn't to say that I didn
't enjoy myself - we made the most of what was there and enjoyed what we did and saw. Cork is definitely the quieter, younger sister of Dublin, and for a little more action I'd sooner return to Dublin. However if you're looking for a base for exploring the country, yet you want the hive of a city with plenty of restaurants and pubs, I would heartily recommend it for that. ~#~ Note: an exchange rate of €1.42=£1 was used when working out the prices in this op. The rate is correct as of 25th Jan 2003.
Our first thought as my husband and I arrived in Cork was "Oh my god, we're back in Dublin!" Having slept most of the stretch from Cahir to Cork we were worried for a minute that we'd hopped on the wrong bus - the river running through the town centre complete with periodic bridges, the 'Centra Quick Stop' on every second corner and the slightly crumbly stone houses did seem almost uncannily familiar. But no - we were in the right place after all. As the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, Cork is quite a buzzing place, full of old buildings, churches, shopping centres, pubs and, of course, tourists. On arrival, we hefted our backpacks and began to follow my hastily scribbled directions for the 'Sheila's of Cork' hostel. Only about 10 minutes walk from the bus stop (depending on quality of directions and size of backpack), it was a bit of a struggle up a hill but still quite convenient to the town centre. At only IR £10/night (UK£8) for a dorm bed Sheila's wasn't bad at all, including a well-stocked kitchen (complete with recycling bins), a video room with fairly recent videos for hire, a pleasant common room and even a sauna (IR£1.50/person). The bedrooms were fairly small - only 4 beds in ours (meaning less snoring roommates). My only gripe is that my mattress was lumpy and the bed above it too low (I lost count of the number of times I bumped my head!). The staff were mostly Australian and generally quite helpful. [Note to any other Aussies out there: Sheila's also stocks Tim-Tams, Cherry Ripes, Milo and Vegemite!] Oh, and if you stay for three nights you also get a free pass to the City Gaol (Jail) and Radio Museum (normally worth IR£3.50). As it was pretty late in the evening, we just dumped our bags in our room and freshened up a little before heading out to find some dinner. McCurtain Street, we were informed, was our best bet. The entire street seemed to consist mainl
y of pubs, restaurants and cheap eateries. Being rather tired we decided to get takeaways: I opted for a Tandoori Special Kebab (less than UK£3 and totally delicious and filling) while Dave had a large pepperoni pizza (around UK£4 for 12 inches). Than back to the hostel to rest up for the next day's sight-seeing?. We woke up bright and early (well? okay around 10am). First we headed across the river into the city centre, stopping to browse at a few shops on the way to the Tourist Office (on the corner of Grand Parade and South Mall). After picking up some info and browsing through souvenirs we couldn't possibly afford, we headed out towards the City Gaol. On the way we passed by the Coal Quay Markets, which weren't really that exciting - just a few stalls with cheap clothing and so on (though it was drizzling a little and there were also road works on that street - perhaps it's usually more interesting). We also stopped at the Cork Vision Centre, which is a smallish gallery that has a different exhibit every month or so. At the time we were there a mixture of surreal and impressionist paintings/collages/sculptures were on display, presumably by local artists. The works weren't exactly outstanding, but there were still quite a few interesting pieces and hey, it was free. Cork City Gaol was a fair walk from the city centre (and across the river again), but worth it when we got there. Included in the admission price (IR£3.50, but as mentioned before we got free passes) was an audio tour of the gaol, which was quite informative. It covers the history of individual inmates of the gaol as well as general history. At the end of the tour there is also an audio-visual presentation which was slightly corny but still entertaining, and worth it just to hear the Irish in the audience join in with the song at the end (though I'm afraid I can't remember what it was called!). We then headed across the river once mo
re to Fitzgerald Park, which houses the Cork Public Museum. Along with a lot of interesting artefacts and information relating to Irish history, what I found most interesting was a selection of personal letters between Michael Collins and his lover, Kate Kearney. (Apparently the entire collection has been divided up and the various selections are periodically rotated around the major museums in Ireland.) The museum is also free, and I definitely recommend a visit. The park is quite nice as a spot to relax for a while (we spent a good twenty minutes or so just sitting and watching the ducks). We continued on, passing the University and the Greyhound Racing Track along the way to St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. Though it perhaps wasn't as grand as I was expecting, the cathedral was still quite attractive and worth a photo or two. From here we went on to the Red Abbey, which turned out to actually be the fairly unimpressive ruins of an old monastery. By this time it was becoming rather late, so we walked on past the City Hall, stopped at a Quick Stop to get some supplies for dinner and headed back to the hostel. After dinner we headed out to check out the Cork nightlife. Unfortunately being a Friday night most places seemed a little too crowded for our tastes. I was hoping for somewhere with traditional or otherwise live music, but by the time we went out most places with bands playing (not counting those with abominable cover charge) seemed to have finished and moved on to playing techno or chart music. We finally settled on a pub on the corner of McCurtain and Bridge streets , which was alright as somewhere to stop for a pint but nothing special. (We left after the music degenerated from Texas to the Jackson Five.) The following day we spent some time browsing about the town centre (Oliver Plunkett Street in particular has some interesting and cheap shops). We then headed for the bus station and took a bus out to Blarney (IR£3 return)
. Only a half hour or so out of Cork, Blarney is quite a pleasant little town, though obviously the main attraction is Blarney Castle. Entrance is IR£3.50, which includes kissing the Blarney Stone. The grounds are massive and include a lot of points of interest such as the Witches Kitchen, a Sacrificial Altar and a Druids Worshipping Ground. The Castle itself is fairly bare of the usual furnishings and so forth but is still interesting. If you can brave the narrow spiral staircases, the Blarney Stone as at the top of the Castle. A man is up there to help you lean back over a somewhat dizzying drop to kiss the stone (well worn by thousands of tourist lips). I'd advise you to get a friend to take a photo of you - though the official photographer occupies the best vantage point, the snaps cost between IR£7-£22 (depending on size). You can also get an 'official' certificate (IR£1) verifying that you have kissed the stone from the gift shop down below (though even we decided that was just too tacky!). I don't know whether we actually gained the elusive 'gift of the gab'... only time will tell! So I'm afraid that more or less concludes our trip to Cork - after a little more time wandering the city and so on we set off for Killarney the next morning. Though perhaps not the most exciting of cities, it was still a pleasant place to visit and contained enough attractions to keep us busy! I would definitely recommend Cork as a stopover for anyone touring the 'Emerald Isle'. For more information on Sheila's Hostel go to www.sheilashostel.ie For bus information and timetables go to www.buseireann.ie For tourist information on Cork go to www.cork-guide.ie or www.ireland.travel.ie Stay tuned for more Ireland ops!
- So you live in Cork, do you? Yes, I do. - Nice place? Yes, it is, although it took me a while to get to like it. Did you know that it’s the second largest town in Ireland? - You’re joking, right? No, actually, I’m not. It’s true. - But it’s so small! Compared to the size of towns in England, yes, it is. There are just 150,000 people living here. - That is small. But Cork is growing rapidly. There are so many new housing developments in progress, especially in the adjoining towns and villages, to try to cope with the increasing population. I think that’s why the town centre, which is very small, is always so packed on a Saturday. - So what’s it like then? What? - Cork. Well, when I first came here in June 1998, I didn’t think much of it. I’d moved here straight from the buzz and bustle of London, which I loved, and the culture shock was too much for me. The fact that my husband’s boss had given us just two weeks’ notice to move there, I had just found out I was pregnant, and we had to live in a hotel room for six months obviously didn’t help lift my spirits. - Yeah, yeah, so you had problems, don’t we all – tell me what you didn’t like about Cork. I didn’t like the different pace of life. Things are much slower and quieter here, and I found it hard to adjust. Everyone seems to know everyone else, so we, as newcomers, felt a bit isolated. I didn’t like the fact that Cork city centre is so small, either. I love huge shopping complexes with familiar names beckoning me to go in and spend; somehow Patrick Street and Plunkett Street don’t quite fulfil the same need. - But you like it now? Now I love it. - So what changed? I suppose I started to see the positive sides. I was used to a fast-paced li
fe, but I adjusted surprisingly quickly to the lower stress levels. I think more value is placed on family and quality of life over here. Things are generally cheaper here, too, whereas salary levels are similar to the UK. Maybe this is why people feel they don’t need to work such long hours in order to live well, I don’t know. - What about the people in Cork? Much as I hate to generalise, I’m going to. People are very friendly here, and in a sincere way. They take a genuine interest in you, and go out of their way to be helpful. I am constantly being surprised by the spontaneous acts of kindness of people, either strangers or acquaintances. They also know how to enjoy themselves – the pubs (the MANY pubs!) are always busy and full of laughter (although that sounds very clichéd, I’ve found it is true). - What’s the centre of Cork like, then? When I told people we were moving to Cork, everyone said, “Oh, Cork, it’s beautiful, you’ll love it”, etc. Maybe due to high expectations, then, I found myself a bit disappointed when I actually saw the town for myself. The road in to Cork takes you past factories, warehouses and the docks, so our first impressions were not very good. Don’t get me wrong, though; the town is nice enough, just not as special as I was led to believe. What I do like about Cork is the River Lee that flows through the town. It brightens the place up, especially when the sky is blue, and there are lots of bridges to cross, which adds to the charm. There seem to be churches and chapels everywhere you turn; religion still plays a very strong role in daily life here. Driving in Cork can be very confusing initially. Many of the roads are one-way, meaning you have to make fairly large detours in order to get where you want to go. People are very helpful if you do get lost, thankfully – believe me, I know. - And the shoppin
g? The shopping area of Cork is very small, as I mentioned before. There are two main shopping streets which run parallel to each other: St Patrick Street, where you’ll find most of the chain stores, and Oliver Plunkett Street, where most of the shops are small, independent ones. It’s always quite busy, especially on a Saturday, and it isn’t always easy to manoeuvre a pushchair, especially in Plunkett Street where the pavements are quite narrow. The largest department store is Roches, which is still fairly small compared to stores in the UK. I actually feel that there isn’t as much choice here, although prices are generally lower. One of my favourite shops is Penneys, a shop that sells clothes and household goods at rockbottom prices. - Is there much to see of interest for tourists? Yes, there is actually quite a lot to see, although public transport not being very good, you really need a car to make the most of it. In Cork centre, you would not be forgiven for not visiting that fine example of French-Gothic architecture, ST FINBARR’S CATHEDRAL. Not a great fan of cathedrals usually, I actually did enjoy strolling leisurely around this one; I found the atmosphere very restful. If you like stained glass, you’ll appreciate the huge rose window, and there are some lovely mosaics and carvings throughout. There is the CORK CITY GAOL in Sunday’s Well, which sounds very morbid but actually isn’t. You are handed a walkman on arrival, and although this may seem fairly antisocial, it proves an interesting guide and really helps recreate the atmosphere of life in the Gaol in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Other places worth visiting in Cork city centre are the Cork Vision Centre, Shandon Church, the English Market, the Beamish and Crawford Brewery, Bishop Lucie Park and the Crawford Gallery. I recommend that you pay a visit to the Tourist Office on Gr
and Parade, who are extremely helpful. - What about the environs of Cork, anything worth seeing there? Well, twenty minutes outside Cork is BLARNEY, with its famous castle. Oh, it’s a lovely place, and I really do recommend you visit this. It’s a very small castle, set in some beautiful grounds with a little stream running alongside it and surrounded by woodland. At the top of the castle you can kiss the Blarney Stone, if you want to (although I imagine it’s quite unhygienic!). I have been twice, both times in the autumn when it was very quiet, so am unable to say whether it gets crowded during the summer. The village of Blarney is very picturesque and well preserved. COBH is a small fishing village about 15 minutes drive from Cork. There’s not all that much to do here, but it’s worth taking a drive down just to see the seafront with all its houses painted in bright colours. This was also the Titanic’s last port of call before setting off for New York, back in the days when Cobh was called Queenstown. KINSALE is another fishing village that makes a nice day out; this is also where the locals go in the summer, to the “beach”! Children especially will appreciate FOTA WILDLIFE PARK, where they’ll be able to see at first hand giraffes, wild cats, monkeys, and many many other wild animals. If you don’t enjoy this kind of thing, you can take a relaxing walk through the grounds of Fota House, its arboretum, and on to the Victorian railway station, which is still in use. If you are interested in finding out more about the history of whiskey, the JAMESEON HERITAGE CENTRE in Midleton is well worth a visit. Here you can find out how whiskey was made in the olden days, and then enjoy the whiskey tasting at the end of the tour. You will be given an ‘exclusive’ whiskey tasting diploma if you really put your all into it! There are lots of old country houses
that you can visit too, such as Dunkettle House (sometimes spelt Dunkathiel) where the owner himself will take you round (he’s a bit creepy though), and Riverstown House, which I have to mention because it is almost literally at the bottom of my garden - oh yes, I live in a good neighbourhood ;o). So you see, something for everyone. - Jeez, remind me to ask you to be brief next time. Sorry, but you did ask. - No, that’s okay, but I’m late for my violin practice now. Anything else to add, quickly? No, not really. Oh yes, hang on! I’d just like to say, in conclusion, that there is much more to Cork than first appearances show. For the tourist, there are plenty of interesting things to do and see, at least enough to keep you busy for the best part of a week. For the resident of Cork, or of one of its outlying towns or villages (like me), the community spirit and the tranquillity that exist here make it a saner place to live and a healthier place to bring up your children. That’s about it. - Wonderful! Thanks, got to run. Bye! Bye then! Thanks for listening … oh, he’s gone.
Cork is a laugh. What people don’t get is that you need a local to show you the best places to go. The best times to come are during a festival. We have the Cork Film Festival and the Cork Jazz Weekend every year in around October (on different dates) and there are always loads of fun things to do… and plenty of interesting tourists to do them with. If jazz and films aren’t your thing then come any time and get ready for some serious drinking. Cork might not have as many amenities as Dublin but what we don’t have in terms of museums, etc we make up for by how much we enjoy ourselves. Anyone interested in clubbing should try Henry’s on Wednesdays for Freakscene a metal/rock night, Cubins for those over 23, Maas for hard house and garage in classy surroundings and Gorby’s if you just want a laugh, cheap drinks and plenty of up for it lads. The Savoy is a recently opened club for those who prefer a more sophisticated experience- be warned it's about twice the admission price (£10) of other Cork clubs. Of course, there’s the Blarney Stone just outside of the city and if you feel like being lowered down backwards to kiss a rock in the hopes of getting the gift of the gab then by all means go for it (empty the change out of your pockets first though) In the summer, Kinsale is a really busy town popular with tourists because of its excellent restaurants and (even more) pubs. People often make the mistake of making Cork their 2-day stop over on the way to Dublin but it has much more to offer than that. It’s small enough that a car isn’t really necessary for shopping in the city centre and although the weather isn’t always the best it’s a city well worth visiting.
Cork may not be one of the places in Ireland that most people think about for a holdiay, but i found it to be pretty, colourful and friendly. The houses are mostly painted in different pastel colours and the ones along the river look especially attractive. There is not a huge amount of things to do in Cork, apart from shopping and of course drinking in one of the numerous pubs. Since we were only there a couple of days we visited only two attractions - the cork city gaol and nearby blarney castle. Other attractions in cork however include the beamish brewery and murphy's brewery, both of which offer tastings and tours. Cork city gaol was facinating, and has wax models of the more famous prisoners that once inhabited the gaol, along with a taped commentry which you listen to on head phones and which guides you round the prison. There are also two walls inside the prison covered in graffiti left by Republican prisoners in the early 20th century which makes interesting reading. If you are going to Cork then you really have to visit Blarney castle, its about 5 miles from Cork city, with frequent bus services. It really is a beautiful castle and very interactive, with no parts of it cordoned off from visitors who are left to wander around the rooms and nooks and cranny's. While there, you must kiss the blarney stone as its not quite as difficult as it looks! Get someone to take a photo of you though if you want a souviner because although staff take a picture of everyone who kisses it, the photo's are very expensive to buy. The setting of the castle is very picturesque too, and there is a lovely nature walk to go on, with things to see along the way such as stone circles, and models of fairy's. I would recommend visting Cork and definitly Blarney castle, but you probably won't need more than two days to see the city.