Cork

Quick Facts

Language: English

Currency: Euro

Area Codes: 021

Other Cities in this Region

Cork is a wonderful little city located along the coast of the St. George's Channel. It is a small town with a big heart, and one thing for sure, the scenery is beautiful. The picturesque landscape of Cork is absolutely amazing, and the few structures that do exist are tremendous. Cork is nestled in between two separate branches of the River Lee, and it is a quaint spot that is perfect for vacationing and relaxing. It is in the perfect location if you are interested in taking sightseeing trips in and around the city, and the town itself is quite compact, making everything easily accessible. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, and the major trade center of the south. In total, there are 175,000 people who reside in Cork, and every one that I have come in contact with seems like a jolly bloke ready to tell a story and have a drink.

In 1185, Cork was officially established, but the city remained very small and insignificant for centuries. In the 17th century, rapid expansion began to occur, primarily because of the butter industry. The butter trade ensured prosperity for Cork in the 17th and 18th centuries, and these were good times for the small town that was on its way to becoming the premier city in southern Ireland. The River Lee divides Cork into two parts, and as a result, an astounding array of bridges and quays are laced throughout the city. Every view seems like a postcard photo, and even with a modest amount of activities, Cork remains incredibly exciting. The air is clean and crisp, and the mood is always right. The atmosphere throughout the city is a lively and energetic one, and simply walking around looking at the sights is enough to keep you from ever getting bored. A few of the restaurants in Cork are absolute gems, and the area in and around Paul Street features outdoor merchants selling all kinds of interesting items. The Shandon Steeple is a joy to climb, as you are welcome to ring the bells at the top, and this is only one of the highlights of this great city.

Docking & Local Transportation

Cruise ships dock at the Port of Cork, located close to the downtown region of Cork.

A very enjoyable way to navigate the streets of Cork is by walking them. The city has laid out a walking path known as the Tourist Trail that will guide you on your way. However, other options exist as well. Buses run daily, many leaving from the Parnell Place Bus Station (021/450-8188, www.buseireann.ie), and will take you all around the city at a very affordable rate. If you prefer, you can opt to take a taxi service. Contact Shandon Cabs (021/450-2255) or ABC Cabs (021/496-1961) for more information. Finally, you can rent a car at one of the major rental car agencies located at the Cork Airport. Contact Budget (021/431-4000) or Europcar (021/491-7300) for specific rates.

Local Interests

St. Anne's Church (021/450-5906, www.stanneshandon.ie), in the heart of Cork, is one of the most famous sights in town. It is an ancient edifice that is respected by all members of the community. Both a gathering place and a prime tourist destination, St. Anne's Church is a lovely religious site. Not to be outdone, the Shandon Steeple is an even more popular site for tourists and passers by. It is located on Church Street and is shaped to resemble an oval-like pot. Inside are the famous bells that are paid tribute to in The Bells of Shandon. One of the most fun activities in Cork, especially for the young and the young at heart, is climbing up to the top of the tower and ringing the bells, which can be heard for miles. Don't worry, I wouldn't steer you wrong; this is perfectly legal--in fact, it is encouraged.

The Crawford Municipal Art Gallery is located on Emmet Pl. (021/490-7855, www.crawfordartgallery.ie) and is home to a fabulous collection of diverse artwork. Among the best pieces are the 18th century renditions of Cork and neighboring cities. This exhibit chronicles works from this time period on, and all of them focus on the landscape of Cork. These paintings are marvelous, and it is quite a thrill to compare the architectural and geographic progression of the city. Numerous modern artists have their work on display here as well, and Crawford is always a top spot to see what is hot artistically in Ireland.

Activities

Dining

Isaac's is a popular spot with locals and is located at 48 MacCurtain St. (021/450-3805). The produce is harvested right outside the restaurant and is used in virtually all of the dishes, and it is fresh and bursting with flavor. The factor that distinguishes the meals here from the rest is this use of fantastic fruits and vegetables. Specialties include the potato salad and creamy Irish pudding. The Fastnet Restaurant can be found on Western Road (021/427-6622) and has an excellent a la carte menu. This is another one of the lucky restaurants whose food is enhanced by the incredible Cork produce. Fastnet is a great place for the family or if you are with a group, as you can order a few a la carte items and share away! There are a number of great dishes that you are going to want to devour. The Ivory Tower is located at 35 Princess St. (021/427-4665) and can thank its success to the wonderful work of chef Seamus O'Connell. The entrees here, which include the wild pheasant tamale and tagliatelle of squid, are known as the most exotic and exquisite in town.

Nightlife

To find out about the concerts, shows, or theater events in and around Cork, be sure to contact the Cork City Visitor Information Center, which is located on Grand Parade (021/425-5100, www.corkkerry.ie). Because of the small-town atmosphere, not too many big name performances come through, but enjoyable local bands play quite often. Jury's is a popular meeting place to grab a drink or engage in a little chatting. It is located on Western Road (021/427-6622) and is quite a pleasant outfit.

Shopping

The main shopping district in Cork is the vicinity on and around Paul Street. Located right near the parking lot for the city center, a cluster of shops and specialty stores lace the avenue. Perhaps the best is the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, which is located on Emmet Place (021/490-7855, www.crawfordartgallery.ie) and is full of beautiful paintings for sale.