Sunday, July 24, 2022

10 Artsy & Cool Reasons To Visit Cork City, Ireland

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Cork City (photo: George Karbus)

Everything you’ve ever heard about Ireland is true: The hills are green, the Guinness is flowing, the wind is ever at your back. The pubs are filled with colorful characters and traditional music. You could go anywhere in Ireland and have a great time, but County Cork, on the south-western coast, is a wonderful place to start.

CORK CITY: START WITH A STROLL
Cork City is the second largest after Dublin. Set along the River Lee, its’ picturesque charm is inviting. Like the rest of Ireland, it’s a very, pretty place with super-friendly people, and it’s also really easy to get around. So, start with a stroll through the center of town:
Cork City (photo: ©Fáilte Ireland)

St. Patrick's Street - This long and winding road has been Cork's main shopping drag (“Pana” in local slang) since the 18th century with fine shops, trendy brands, and practical places like banks and cell phone shops. At the end, you might want to pop into the popular, upmarket department store Brown Thomas
Exploring Cork City Is Easy: Walks - You can download the Cork App; Follow Cork City Walks curated walking tours; Create your own self-guided walks; or take a Free Cork Walking TourBike – Do a bikeshare ride that comes with an App & a 3-day pass. Bus – Get a Leap Card for public buses. 

PUB LIFE
One of the great joys of a trip to Ireland is hanging out in terrific pubs and Cork City has its fair share. In addition to the Guinness, enjoy a selection of local brews, the “craic”--great company and lively conversation, and “trad”—traditional Irish music. 
Sin É 
Pubs: Check out the Cork Heritage Pub Trail. This should be your first stop:
Sin É Pub (8 Coburg St) - This place is renowned for its’ welcoming atmosphere and great trad music. I
n Irish, Sin É means “That’s it” referring to the funeral parlor next door.
Some other worthy pubs to try, known for their brews & music nights:
The Gables (31-32 Douglas St); Clancy’s (15-16 Princes St); Charlie’s (2 Union Quay) & An Spailpín Fánach (28 South Main St). 
Breweries & Distilleries:
Rising Sons Brewery (Cornmarket St) - Try some craft beers or craft gin at this micro-brewery/sports bar, with a traditional Irish pub atmosphere. You can also book a Brewery Tour & Beer Tasting experience.
Franciscan Well

Franciscan Well Brewery (14 No. Mall) - Take a Tastings Tour at this brewpub, known for its’ delicious craft beers, on the site of a former, medieval monastery. Then, nosh on a wood-fired pizza in the beer garden.
Rebel City Distillery (Marina Commercial Park, Centre Park Rd) - Check out this newly-opened distillery housed in the renovated, former Ford car factory. Take a Distillery Tour to see how a range of spirits are crafted & distilled, then bottled on-site.

CORK’S FOODIE SCENE
Cork is known for gourmet food and Irish sports—an interesting combo! Take a cooking course at Ballymaloe, one of the top “cookery” schools, with a side trip to lovely Kinsale, the “gourmet capital.” And, do whiskey tastings at the world-renowned Jameson Distillery in Midleton. In Cork City:
English Market (photo: Chris Hill)
English Market (Princes Street) - Created in 1788, it’s the oldest market of its kind in Europe where locals shop for freshly-caught seafood, just-butchered meats, local cheeses, breads, and fresh fruits & veggies, etc. Grab a coffee and sample traditional-yet-innovative, homemade fare at the Farmgate Café, or at any one of the many stalls selling freshly-prepared meals and snacks.
Marina Market (Centre Park Rd) - Recently opened, this is more of a Food Court than a market per se with vendors offering an eclectic mix of international favorites such as Mexican burritos, Japanese sushi, and Irish Prátaí (potatoes). Craft & Farmers’ Market on the weekends.
Cork Butter Museum (O’Connell Square) - Now you know: In the 19th century, Cork was the largest exporter of butter in the world! The exhibits illuminate Cork’s dairy history at the center of Europe's important butter trade.

BE A SPORT
Hurling
(photo: Inpho/Oisín Keniry)

The Irish have a passion for sports. In Cork, experience a Rugby match and other uniquely Irish sports such as Hurling or Gaelic football. Then, go to the Races—horses (Cork Racecourse Mallow) and/or dogs (Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium).

A TOWN STEEPED IN HISTORY
Nano Nagle Place (Douglas St) - In this beautifully-restored complex of historic buildings, learn all about the 18th-century nun, Nano Nagle, who founded: seven schools for poor children in Cork, an almshouse for women, and the order of Presentation Sisters to carry on her work. The interactive exhibits in the museum depict the life of impoverished Catholics under British rule and Nano Nagle tireless efforts to help the disadvantaged. While this might sound a bit grim, it’s fascinating history and the site is just beautiful, with walled gardens and the tasty Good Day Deli café serving local, seasonal, organic offerings. 
Nano Nagle Place
St. Fin Barre's Cathedral (Bishop St) - Named after Cork's patron saint, St. Finbarr, the Cathedral was built in the 1870s and is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival-style architecture with stunning, stained-glass windows.

ARTS & CULTURE
Crawford Art Gallery (Emmet Place) - The museum's collection, with over 3,000 works, ranges from 18th-century Irish and European painting and sculpture to contemporary video installations. There’s also an award-winning café, Crawford Gallery Café
Crawford Art Gallery (photo: Brian Morrison)
St Peter's Cork (87A North Main St) - St. Peter's is one of Cork's oldest standing churches, dating back to 1270. Now, deconsecrated, it serves as an arts exhibit space celebrating Cork’s heritage and culture. There’s also a nice café.
The Glucksman - University College Cork (College Rd) - The University’s art collection focuses on modern and contemporary Irish art. These works are placed throughout the campus to give students and visitors a first-hand experience with original works of art. (Book a UCC campus tour to see all the artworks.) The Glucksman highlights contemporary art with changing exhibits in a stunning, museum setting.
UCC artwork on campus (photo: William Murphy)

Ardú – Street Art Project - Several of Ireland’s well-known street artists were invited to create murals inspired by the memory of the 1920 Burning of Cork. The Ardú (Irish for “Rise”) Art Trail can be explored on a self-guided tour with an audio guide & downloadable map on the website.
Festivals: Guinness Cork Jazz Festival (Oct); Cork International Film Festival (Nov). 
Where To Stay: Lots of lovely places to stay. Try Garnish Guesthouse (18 Western Rd) – A super-friendly staff & great breakfasts.

NEARBY JUANTS
Country Cork is an absolutely beautiful region, so factor in time for day trips or an even longer stay. Some great West Cork stops:
John Kelly “Cow Up A Tree”, Reen Farm
Clonakilty - Even Scally's, the local supermarket, is impressive.
Skibbereen – The Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre is just terrific.
Reen Farm (Union Hall, Skibbereen) - The brilliant artist John Kelly and his talented wife Christina Todesco-Kelly have created a sculpture park featuring John’s work and a memorial to the Famine devastation on the South Reen peninsula. (Visits during the West Cork History Festival in August.) 
Of course, there’s always kissing the stone at Blarney Castle.
St. Fin Barre (photo: George Karbus)

Getting Around Locally: It's easy to get around by Bus Éireann & Trains.
Getting There: Depending on where you're coming from, there’s flights into nearby Shannon airport and direct flights to Cork airport.
So, start planning your trip. As the Irish say, Céad míle fáilte romhat!--a hundred thousand welcomes—and they mean it!
Visiting Ireland during COVID: As you know by now, the COVID situation—as well as requirements for travel--is constantly changing. Currently, almost all COVID restrictions have been lifted in Ireland. But, that could always change. Check here for the latest info.

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