Situated on the South coast of Ireland, the Republic's second city (although Corkonians see Dublin more as a ‘near rival’) derives its name from the marshy land on the banks of the River Lee. It’s Irish name Corcaigh- means marsh. The centre of the city sits tight on a kilometre wide island, mostly reclaimed from those marshes.
Visit Cork and the city has a very continental feel to it. This is due in part to the narrow alleys, waterways and resplendent Georgian architecture. The city has a new found bohemian spirit, distancing itself from previous political rebelliousness. In fact Cork was European City of Culture in 2005 and has continued to thrive as a centre for the arts, much in evidence during the jazz festival held every October.
Many of the usual shopping haunts when you visit Cork on its bustling Patrick Street, and more traditional shops and pubs line nearby Oliver Plunkett Street. The pedestrianised alleys of the old French Quarter around Paul Street are cluttered with ethnic restaurants, bookshops and trendy boutiques. This area is Cork’s equivalent to Dublin’s Temple Bar. The famous English market, dating back to 1610, is a great place to get fresh local and international food.
In the centre there are a bounty of art galleries, museums and churches to keep any tourist busy for a day or two, before heading out to see the rest of County.
If you visit Cork join the scores of tours to Blarney Castle, 8km Northwest of Cork, home of the Blarney stone. Sharing your lips with the stone is said to give you ‘the gift of the gab’. Plenty of buses run from Cork to the castle.
If you visit Cork do not overlook Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’), this escape from the city’s hustle and bustle makes a great day trip. It has one of the largest natural harbours in the world and luxury cruise liners regularly stop here, including the ill fated Titanic in 1912. The town has a maritime feel to it, described as a ‘quaint seaport’.
Corkonians are said to be the most talkative in all of Ireland, which takes some doing. Maybe kissing the Blarney stone works after all!