Ireland’s second largest city is fast gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s hippest and is only 1½ hours from Southampton Airport with Aer Lingus. Built on islands in the River Lee, the many bridges give the city a continental feel with the Georgian grandeur of its successful past. The birthplace of many a famous face from TV personality Graham Norton, Roy Keane of Manchester United and Munster and Ireland rugby player Ronan O’Gara, its ideal for both city sightseers and outdoor enthusiasts and provides a fantastic base for exploring some of Ireland’s most treasured attractions. Here are just some to kick start your sightseeing tour…
Soak up the history and culture
Step into the life of the city’s poverty stricken 19th century prisoners that were once housed in the Cork City Gaol - many of them sentenced to hard labour for stealing bread to eat. Bursting with historical and archaeological heritage, experience the sights, sounds and smell of life on the wrong side of the law during the 19th century. The three spires (and chimes) of St Finbarre’s Cathedral are one of Cork’s main landmarks and can be seen, and heard, from all around the city. Step closer and you will be in awe of the French-gothic architecture, step inside and you’ll see for yourself that the interior lives up to the beautiful exterior.
Blackrock Castle is a 16th century castle that is now home to an observatory with fascinating exhibitions on stars and space and an interactive floor-to-ceiling screened tour of the universe, which is out of this world!
Immerse yourself in Ireland’s finest public art collection outside of Dublin at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery set in the elegant former customs house built in 1724. At the heart of the gallery lies the famous Canova Casts, a series of plaster casts donated by the Vatican Museum to the Cork Society of Arts in 1818.
A breath of fresh air
Escape the bustling city and visit the idyllic seaside town of Cobh and learn about its fascinating links with Irish emigration and the famous ships that visited its port - including the Titanic. Or enjoy a peaceful day strolling along the cliffs by the coast showcasing the rolling hills and wild flowers of the mountainside with the magnificent cathedral dominating your view of the town.
In search of adventure
Adventure and outdoor pursuit centres are a plenty from pony trekking on the beach, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, tree climbing at Zipit Forest Adventures to riding the thrills of The Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails - the largest trail network of its kind in Ireland! There really is something for everyone, whatever your passion.
Food & Drink
Cork is known as the gourmet capital of Ireland and is a diner’s delight with so many places to eat in and around the city. Tantalise your taste buds with a barista-made brew in the cafes, a hearty traditional Irish stew in a gastro pub or choose between the array of trendy restaurants and bars with something for everyone on the menu. Sample the delights of the locally produced artisan goods ranging from Cork’s famous pastries, honey to craft beers and handmade chocolates. To accompany your culinary delight of Cork, visit the Old Midleton Distillery, the world’s biggest pot still for making whiskey. It has a capacity of 31,618 gallons.
If shopping is your bag, explore the indoor and outdoor markets and shopping districts that Cork has to offer. Patrick Street is the main shopping area and home to Brown Thomas, the oldest department store in the city as well as the major high street stores. For something different try the French Quarter for interesting book shops, small boutiques specialising in Irish crafts and antiques or the Coal Quay market which is great for second hand goods and antiques
- Cork Harbour is said to be the second largest natural harbour in the world, after Sydney Harbour in Australia.
- The first factory that Ford Motor Company built outside of America was in Cork, where owner Henry Ford’s ancestors were from.
- Cork got its nickname ‘The Rebel County’ due to a history of independence from the Viking invasions to the Irish War of Independence, when it was the scene of a considerable amount of fighting.
- John F Kennedy’s great grandfather came from West Cork.
- St. Colman’s Catholic Cathedral in Cobh has the largest number of Carillon Bells in Ireland and the UK (49 bells).
- Cobh - then known as Queenstown - was also the ill-fated Titanic’s last port of call in 1912.
- Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have planted the first potato in Ireland near his home in Youghal, Cork around 1588
Fancy a visit to Cork? To check times and book flights please click here.