Situated in the South West of Ireland, it is the largest of all the Irish counties and in many ways the most varied.
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Rich farmlands and river valleys contrast with the wild sandstone hills of the west, and above all there is the magnificent coastline scooped and fretted by the Atlantic into great bays and secret coves, strewn with rocky headlands and long soft golden sands.
Cork City is Ireland's third city (after Dublin and Belfast) and has always been an important seaport. It began on an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee (the name Corcaigh means a marsh), and gradually climbed up the steep banks on either side. Today the river flows through Cork city in two main channels, so that you find yourself constantly crossing bridges.
Some of the main streets are built over channels where ships nuzzled their anchor-chains a century ago. Along the South Mall, you will see large gateways at street level, under steps leading to a higher main door. These were once boathouses, when merchants arrived at their warehouses by water.
As the hilly streets go up and down, so do the voices of the citizens. They have a characteristic sing-song cadence, beloved of national comedians, and Corkonians are regarded as the most talkative of all the Irish. St. Finbarr is the founder and patron saint. He founded a monastery in the seventh century where St. Finn Barre's Cathedral now stands, and it grew into an extensive and wealthy establishment.
It attracted the attention of the Viking sea-pirates who raided and burned the infant city, but returned in later years to settle and trade. The Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172 resulted in both the Danish lords and local McCarthy chiefs having to submit to Henry II, but Cork has always had a reputation for independence and stubborn resistance: it came to be known as "Rebel Cork".
The best way to see the city and sample the flavour of its life, is to walk. There is a signpost Walking Tour, so get the accompanying booklet and set off to explore the hilly streets and meet the people.
Walk along the Western Road to Tudor-Gothic University College with its attractive riverside quadrangle, and visit the Honan Chapel there. It is modeled on Cormac's Chapel at Cashel, and has a superb interior including stained-glass windows by Sarah Purser and Harry Clarke.
Make your way up the North Main Street where the Cork Vision Centre is located, then over North Gate Bridge and climb up Shandon Church, the tower of which you will have noticed dominating the north side of the city from its lofty hill-top position.
Two sides of the tower are faced with red sandstone, two with white limestone - "Partly coloured like the people, red and white is Shandon Steeple" goes an old doggerel.
Its peal of eight bells, cast in Gloucester in 1750, have become famous, and you may play them yourself, from "music" cards supplied. Your rendering of Danny Boy or Ave Maria will drift gently down the hill and over the river, to be heard all over the city. Corkonians depend on Shandon clock for their time, and its fish weather-vane for their weather forecast.
Cork City Pubs
|74 Oliver Plunkett St.||(0) 21 427 0752|
|42 Oliver Plunkett St.||(0) 21 427 4544|
|Oliver Plunkett St.||(0) 21 427 1217|
|Pembroke Street||(0) 21 427 7850|
|1 Union Quay||(0) 21 431 1113|
The Long Valley
|Winthrope Street||(0) 21 427 2144|
|Parnell Place||(0) 21 427 6111|
|Washington Street||(0) 21 4271 969|
|Oliver Plunkett St|
|Washington Street||086 844 6198|
|Thirsty Scholar||Western Road|
Cork City Nightclubs
|Club Renaissance||Lynchs Street,|
|Club One|| |
|Havana Browns||Washington Street|
Cork City Resturants
|Abrakebabra||73 Patrick Street||(0) 21 427 6241|
|Taste of Thailand||8 Bridge Street||(0) 21 450 5404|
|Ambassador||3 Cook Street||(0) 21 427 3261|
|Burger King||54 Patrick Street||(0) 21 427 3503|
|Bullys||40 Paul Street||(0) 21 427 3555|
|Clancys Bistro||Marlboro Street||(0) 21 427 6097|
|Eco Restaurant||Douglas Village||(0) 21 489 2522|
|Greene's Restaurant||MacCurtain Street||(0) 21 455 2279|
|Nakon Thai Restaurant||Douglas Village||(0) 21 436 9900|
|McDonald's||Winthrope Street||(0) 21 427 2175|
|Scotts||Oliver Plunkett St.|