As promised in my last post [Read: Ireland – 50 Shades of Green, Blue & Beer], here’s the second post in this micro-series on my time spent in the Emerald Isle; today, we circumnavigate and re-trace my foot-print in the largely under-rated county of Cork!
For many, County Cork is the gateway to what is known as the fabled Wild Atlantic Route in western, coastal Ireland. Though, in many ways not as spectacular as the forthcoming counties of Kerry & Dingle, Cork is highly underrated in many ways and is worth spending some time in, especially if you’re prepared to wander off the beaten path.
Cork city, described locally as ‘Ireland’s second city’ (after the capital), is a haven of wonderfully laid out houses, cafes and pubs structured adorably around its ever sloping landscape and its bumbling River Lee.
Tourist attractions within the city are limited.
There’s the legendary St. Finbarre’s Cathedral – evidence of a strong French medieval Gothic influence. Don’t forget to steal a glance at the Golden Angel on the east side – a local legend says the angel is frozen in gold and will come to life & blow its trumpet when the Apocalypse is due, thus fulfilling her purpose (spooky, yeah?)
The other notable POI in town is the Cork City Gaol – the restored cells house feature models of suffering prisoners overlooked by sadistic looking guards. The idea is to re-create the harshness of the 19th century penal system. A moving and gruesome experience but hardly worth the €7 entry fare.
What’s absolutely worth watching is the fabulous English Market – complete in its Victorian feel with vaulted ceilings & columns. With an endless supply of vendors selling local produce ranging from meat to cheese to oils and more, it can be a highly overwhelming experience for a tourist (especially of an indecisive nature). There’s plenty of great food to be had here and I suggest nothing over the nearby Farmgate Cafe.
The other thing to be really done in Cork is hopping around a bunch of truly fantastic traditional pubs for some soul wrenching live music – The Corner House and Sin é are neighbors and largely similar pubs. You can do both in a matter of a couple of hours.
Pro Tip: Parking in the city is mostly paid for and reserved for license holders. You can purchase a parking coupon from a shop closeby that will allow you to park at certain places (cost €2)