Guide to Cork City
There is an irrepressible energy about Cork that surely makes visitors wonder why they left it so long to discover this gem of a city. Steeped in history and culture and endowed with a large natural harbour and picturesque river quays, Cork is fast becoming one of the most fashionable places to visit in Europe. No surprise then that in 2010, the Lonely Planet guide recommended Cork City as one of the top 10 cities to visit in the world.
Corkonians are proud of their city‘s cosmopolitan feel and yet express a famously independent spirit. The city was a bastion for Anti-Treaty forces during Ireland’s Civil War in the early 1920’s. Local pubs serve Beamish and Murphy’s Irish Stout as opposed to Guinness. Corkonians speak with a distinctive accent and even use their own slang.
Built on an island between two channels of the River Lee, Cork’s city centre is easily explored on foot. Patrick Street is the city’s main shopping thoroughfare and a sheer pleasure to behold with its curved layout, beautiful old town buildings and preserved shop fronts. For an entirely unique shopping experience, check out Cork’s English Market and experience the sights, smells, sounds and most importantly – foods. Popular with locals and tourists, this bustling indoor market building dates back to 1788 and remains a great place to try out fresh, locally sourced, fish, fruit, cheeses and breads.
No trip to the city would be complete without a visit to Cork’s most iconic landmark building, The Church Tower of Shandon. Climb the stairs to the steeple for a great bird’s eye view of the city and the opportunity to ring the bells! Not far from the Shandon Bells is a quaint museum devoted to the history of butter. It might not sound that enticing but the butter museum gives a delightful insight into Ireland’s rural culture of dairy farming and milk-based foods.
Fitzgerald Park is ideal for a relaxing stroll on a fine afternoon with its multi-coloured flower beds and picturesque views of the River Lee. Cork City Gaol is also well worth a visit. It depicts what life was life for prisoners interred there during the 19th century and interweaves the social and political history of the city.
Cork City and outskirts has an impressive number of quality B&B accommodation providers to ensure your visit is a memorable one. Irish B&Bs are family run and offer authentic hospitality while hosts are happy to provide that extra-special local knowledge about places your are interested in seeing. Easy half day trips from Cork City include Fota Wildlife Park, historic Kinsale, Cobh Harbour and Spike Island.
Cork City offers an amazing range of unique dining options including Oysters Restaurant on Lapps Quay and the Strasbourg Goose on French Church Street which specializes in Gallic cuisine. There is also a great choice in pubs ranging from The Franciscan Well, with its menu of delicious home-brewed beers, to the Castle Inn on Main Street, with its country pub feel and Beamish stout on tap. A night-time walk offers enchanting floodlit views of the Cork Opera House and atmospheric Gothic architecture of St Finbarre’s Cathedral or stroll the city centre Quays after dark and marvel at the golden street lights reflected on the Lee.
Ireland’s second capital awaits.