Cork is Ireland’s biggest county and second largest city. It is the international gateway to ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ and the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ with Cork Airport serving over 50 international destinations. Cork also boasts the 2nd largest natural harbour in the World after Sydney and the world’s oldest sailing club and some of the best Whale Watching’ in Europe. Furthermore, Cork is the Food Capital of Ireland, home to Ballymaloe, the birthplace of modern Irish Cuisine, the famed English Market and also, home to the best artisan food producers in the country. Don’t just take our word for it, as Lonely Planet themselves said, ‘Everything good about Ireland can be found in County Cork’.
Extend your stay and experience the wonders of Cork County. Full of colour and contrasts, it’s the perfect destination for a holiday for all the family. Escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and discover surrounding areas and the many delights this amazing county has to offer. Many visitors opt for the Car Hire to explore the wonders of the Irish south. In particular, the Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, inspiring, renewing, relaxing and invigorating.
Although little more than a small, coastal town, Kinsale has carved out a name for itself as one of Co. Cork’s more colourful gems. The Old Head of Kinsale, with its windswept, rocky promontory reaching out into the water, is a popular beauty spot, while Charles fort, one of the best preserved, 17th century, star-shaped artillery forts in Ireland, keeps a watchful eye over the harbour. 16th century Desmond Castle exhibits its varied history as a customs house, prison and winery, used by famous French families such as the Hennessy’s, over the years, and there’s the 200-year-old signal tower that has been restored and converted into a museum to the RMS Lusitania, which was torpedoed in 1915 by a Germen U-boat.
From its narrow, winding streets, to its picturesque, natural harbour, there’s a very ‘old world’ feel about the town. Further down the Wild Atlantic way, Bunnyconnellan Restaurant offers the most dramatic sea views in the country. Later, Clonakilty town is renowned for its internationally renowned music scene, its community spirit, Blue Flag Beaches and award winning food producers & restaurants, Clon (as its known locally) has every necessary ingredient to make your stay here one you will often recount….but never forget!
If you decide to head east from Cork instead, do not forget to visit world famous Jameson Distillery in Midleton. Join a guided tour through the romantic past of Irish Whiskey making, learn about the Angles Share, Triple Distillation and above all the smooth taste of Jameson Irish Whiskey. With a a rich heritage, history, and stories to tell, a trip to Cobh, one of the world’s finest natural harbours, is a must. Because so many people from Ireland’s past travelled through Cobh, visitors can learn about the stories of these emigrants in Cobh Heritage Centre, as well as learn onboard stories from Titanic, as Queenstown (today’s Cobh) was its last stop before it set off to its final voyage.
Cobh is also a popular departure point for cruise ships. One of them can be to neighbouring Spike Island, with its abandoned ancient fort prison. When travelling further east, stop for a freshly picked fish and chips in Ballycotton or take a break to enjoy the breathtaking Youghal’s views. Nature and animal lovers, on the other hand, do not want to miss out on visiting Fota Wildlife Park, Cork Sea Safari or Cork’s Whale-Watching trips.
Cork City offers both residents and visitors all the advantages of a bustling, vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It is permeated with parks, galleries, shops, restaurants, theaters and historical buildings so visitors are never short of recreational options. Simultaneously it possesses a small-town familiarity and visitors can navigate the city on foot with ease. Cork is widely known as The Food Capital of Ireland. The city and university work well together in providing visitors with a rich academic and extra-curricular experience. Cork City provides endless entertainment in the form of plays, concerts, exhibitions, shopping and festivals.
Cork is known to be the culinary capital of the Republic, and whether you are looking the crispiest morning waffle or beefiest burger, you will find it in the town. Check where the Best Eats in Cork are or just go for a wander around the city’s numerous food markets. Cork is home to Ireland’s most famous covered food market, the English Market. From cheeses to pastas, from olives to cured meats, from sauces to oils, from sausages to sushi, and from exotic spices and herbs to an abundance of beans and rices – the Market took on the ambitious role of meeting the culinary tastes of a modern and diverse new market, and knowingly married these with local and traditional fare.
Showcasing local and traditional produce on critically-acclaimed plates of food, the Market encapsulates the very essence of the values that have sustained the venue across four centuries. Many visitors cannot resist the charm of the open farmers markets. There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread to awaken the senses on a Saturday morning. Cork’s Cornmaket Street Market delivers that and so much more. Every Saturday morning, also Douglas Farmers Market brings together over fantastic local farmers, growers, fishermen, bakers and cooks from all around the County to expand your flavour palette.
Take time out to experience some real traditional country pubs and get a true taste of Irish country pub culture and a little bit more! See what Music Events there are in the Cork area or set off for a Heritage Pub Trail. The city experience would simply not be complete without witnessing a Traditional Irish Music Session. Simply, do not wait until your last night in Cork to discover your favourite pub! If you get bored of a pub, then you will love Cork’s Ghost Tour. This is a unique experience that brings together yarns and tales of grave robbers, pirates and head hunters and other locals from around the city.
You will intrepidly embark up the ancient streets around Shandon where the streets once ran red with the blood of slaughtered animals. You will stop into one of the many spooky watering holes where an air of doom pervades and where the walls stand mute witness to ancient terrors. Then it’s along the river quays, to the last marshes left in Cork before your last stop of the evening – The Franciscan Well, reputedly Cork’s most haunted pub. Back in the mists of time there once stood a monastery with a Holy Well on this very spot where people from far and wide used to come to have evil spirits driven from them. It obviously worked because the only spirits found now are in bottles!
The likelihood of visitors arriving to Cork in a festive season is close to 100 per cent, as the city hosts numerous Festivals throughout the whole year. Ranging from March St Patrick’s Parade to Discovery Science Fest in November, do not be surprised to bump into crowds in Cork’s streets in any season of the year.
History and Architecture
Cork is an old city, one of the oldest of all Irish cities and older than many more famous European cities. Cork’s Past and Present traces the changing fortunes of the city and its development from its origins to the modern era. Situated 8km from Cork City, Blarney Castle is most famous for its stone, which has the traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it. The place has an aura of magic and mystique with Wishing Steps, Witch’s Kitchen, Druids’ Cave and many other delights such as Lake Walk, Waterfall, Fern Garden, Ice-house and Lime Kiln, all telling a story of centuries past.
Blackrock Castle Observatory, located only 15 minutes from Cork City Centre, offers 21st century technology in a memorable 16th century castle setting. Cork City Gaol is located 2km from Patrick’s Street and while the magnificent castle like building is now a major and unique visitor attraction, this Gaol once housed 19th century prisoners. Visitors get a fascinating insight into day to day prison life at a time when the high walls ensured no escape and denied law abiding citizens the opportunity to see one of the finest examples of Ireland’s architectural heritage. History lovers will also appreciate the countless Neolithic monuments that scattered all around the county.
Cork strong sporting culture could appeal to many, as could the range of nearby sporting facilities and golf courses. For golf-lovers, Mahon Golf Club, located on Ireland’s first purpose made Municipal Golf 18-hole Course an golf course, is situated near Cork city centre on the Mahon Peninsula and proves a very challenging test to all grades of Golfers. A warm welcome awaits the visiting golfer also at Douglas Golf Club – a club famous for its challenging and enjoyable golf course with stunning views over Cork City and Cork Inner Harbour. The official Cork Golf Club is then located at Little Island outside of Cork City. This championship golf course is routed through exceptional golfing terrain incorporating old limestone quarries and the inner reaches of Cork Harbour.
Surfers, on the other hand, benefit from the immediate proximity of Cork to the Irish coast and its beautiful sandy beaches. Whether you are a complete beginner and want to take a two-hour long lesson or just get your board and spend the day with the waves, Swell Surf School at Inch beach, GTown Surf School at Garretstown beach or Inchydoney Surf School just south of Clonakilty are all located conveniently within driving distance from Cork city.
Ireland is indeed a sportsmen country. Whether you are a Soccer fan, Rugby supporter or you are passionate about Cricket, there is always plenty to do. Nonetheless, do not forget that Hurling and Gaelic Football are the country’s national sports and certainly worth experiencing, whether personally at the stadium or with a pint of beer and a bite to eat from any pub in the town.
Dog-racing is another popular activity in Cork. You can watch it all unfold from the comfort of the Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium or personal from the front of the stand. It embraces the most passionate of atmospheres – from the roar of the crowd to the adrenaline generated as the greyhounds thunder around the track. Greyhounds racing alike, horse-racing is well beloved in Ireland. Cork’s Horse-Racing course is situated north of the city and regularly hosts national and international events. There is simply nothing like the buzz of animal racing. It is a non-stop entertainment from the first bell till the last race has run its course.