Cork – a True Destination City
The 1199-kilometer-long coast, clean beaches, and steep cliffs make the region around Cork one of Ireland’s most amazing regions. Located in southern Ireland, Cork is the second-largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It is home to over 210,000 residents.
Ireland, and specifically Cork, are ideal for backpackers and young travelers. The laid-back, hospitable people make travelers feel at home. We hope this article will inspire you to explore Cork and all its attractions!
The English Market is a true paradise for foodies. The covered Victorian market hall was built in 1788 and is one of Cork’s most popular attractions. The name, English Market, comes from the Protestant or “English” corporation that once controlled Cork. The covered market was built in order to regulate trade and ensure hygiene in the sale and purchase of goods.
Today, the market still booms with activity as locals frequent the many stalls to buy their everyday goods. In addition to vegetables, fruit, meat, bread, and fish, you can find plenty of quaint cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal and buy souvenirs. The Irish merchants offer regional specialties as well as international products.
The English Market is open Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and entry is free of charge. Peak trading hours are between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Cork Public Museum
The Cork Public Museum was opened in 1910 and showcases the city’s history. Housed in a mid-nineteenth century Georgian style house, the museum has numerous archaeological and geological exhibits on two floors. The public museum is located in the idyllic Fitzgerald Park on the scenic River Lee.
The spacious park is only a few minutes’ walk away from the center and is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. The beautiful gardens, large meadows, and children’s playgrounds will tempt you to spend the entire day there.
The Cork Public Museum is open Monday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free of charge.
In the 19th century, Cork was the biggest butter exporter in the world, and Irish butter was shipped all the way to India and Australia. The city hosted the world’s largest butter market, the Cork Butter Exchange. Today, the same building where the butter market was held in 1849 houses the Cork Butter Museum.
Here, you can find out more about the importance of butter to Ireland and the role it played throughout the ages, as well as traditional butter making and industrial milk processing. Visitors can also learn about the history of Irish trade and the social and domestic aspects of life at that time.
Entry to the museum costs about four euros.
Crawford Municipal Art Gallery
For you art lovers out there, the Crawford is a must-see. The permanent collection consists of over 4,000 historical and contemporary pieces by Irish and European artists. Visitors can enjoy the many paintings, sculptures, and modern video installations. The splendid museum structure was built in 1724. The museum is open daily, and entry is free. Visiting Crawford Art Gallery is a great way to spend a rainy day.
Cork Opera House
Cork Opera House entertains many with its concerts, musicals, comedies, dance performances, the annual Christmas pantomime and, of course, operas.
The Opera House, built entirely out of wood, was ceremoniously opened in 1855. Soon after, the acoustics of the building became less than satisfactory, and so the building required reconstruction. Following the renovations, the Opera House became increasingly popular, and many international artists have performed on its stage. However, in 1955, the building tragically caught fire and burned down, and, after 10 years, it underwent another reconstruction. Built on the site where the original building once stood, the Cork Opera House is now a modern glass structure, which accommodates 1,000 visitors.
St. Mary’s Church and St. Anne’s Church
Also known as St. Mary’s Church or the North Cathedral, this cathedral is one of Cork’s main attractions, built in the 18th century. The extraordinary design, carried out by local craftsmen, is reminiscent of grand Italian buildings with its beautiful, coffered ceiling and the exquisite use of marble and granite, which give the church splendor and grandeur.
Atop the church’s onion roof sits a fish-shaped weather vane – salmon to be specific – that locals affectionately call “de goldie fish,” recalling the fact that the monks used to fish the River Lee.
For 5 euros, you can climb up the church’s bell tower, Shandon Tower, and see the Shandon Bells. Visitors are even allowed to ring the bells themselves and listen to the special carillon. From the top, you have a wonderful view over the city.
Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral
A Christian place of worship since the 7th century, this cathedral was built over the site of the original monastery and St. Finbarre’s remains in the 19th century.
Today, only a few parts of the original building remain, as a large part had to be demolished in order to build the newer cathedral. The beauty of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral definitely warrants a visit – and you’re in luck because it’s open to visitors!
Elizabeth Fort was built in 1601 upon request of Sir George Carew, and in 1626 it underwent transformations to become a well-fortified stone fort. From 1817 to 1837, the fort held Irish convicts as they waited to be transported to Australia. During the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921, the fort served as a major base for soldiers brought to fight against the Irish Republican Army.
The museum in the fort, located very close to the cathedral, is one of the most famous sights of the city of Cork, and visitors can learn about its thrilling history. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5p.m. Entry is free of charge.
Cork City Gaol
The former prison Cork City Gaol is now a museum where you can learn about the everyday life of prisoners in the 19th century. After it opened in 1824, male and female prisoners who had committed crimes within the city were brought here.
In 1923, the prison closed down, and the prisoners were relocated. Later on, it served as a broadcasting station for Radio Eireann, until it opened its doors to visitors in 1993.
Cork City Gaol is open Friday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the entry ticket costs 10 euros.
In addition to Cork City’s sites, there are many beautiful places to see in Cork County that make for a great day trip.
Cobh is a small port city to the south of Cork City, and a great day trip destination. Here you can observe the passing ships, listen to live music on the street, or enjoy a meal in one of the many bars and restaurants. The amazing food, served with a pint of Guinness, and traditional Irish music make for a memorable experience.
Many travelers visit Cobh because it was the Titanic’s last port of call before sinking in the Atlantic Ocean. You can learn more about the people who boarded the Titanic from Cobh, and of course about the ship itself.
Entry to the Titanic Experience costs 10 euros, and the museum is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Spike Island is a former prison island, which is often referred to as the Irish Alcatraz. The island is full of fascinating stories dating as far back as the 7th century.
As of 2015, the island is accessible by boat and visitors can take part in a tour, which details the rich history of the old prison and its fortified walls. The island was also once a monastery before becoming a prison, and you can learn more about its monastic past on your visit. Spike Island is certainly not something to miss!
Blarney Castle, one of Ireland’s best-known sites, is definitely worth a visit. The castle that visitors see today is the third to have been erected on this site. For 18 euros you can explore the wonderful grounds and the considerable number of gardens and lakes. According to legend, visitors must kiss the Blarney Stone in order to speak eloquently for the rest of their lives.
To sum it up, we think you should definitely make a stop in Cork City on your tour of Ireland. The many attractions and breathtaking sights are suitable for everyone. And, from Cork, you can easily explore the city’s beautiful surroundings as well as the rest of the county. Make Cork City the starting point of your trip along the coast of Western Ireland.
In any case, be sure to pay a visit to this lovely Irish city!