Cork has the perfect lifestyle balance – a vibrant, bustling city set in a county that has some of the most spectacular natural beauty in Europe. Many unspoiled mountains, lakes, rivers and beaches are just a short drive from the city centre, and even in the heart of the county, you are never more than an hour from the spectacular Atlantic coastline.
1. The English Market
One of the oldest of its kind, this market has been trading since 1788, and is a must visit during a trip into Cork city. Today’s market is a bustling hive of activity, with many of our traditional butchers and fish mongers continuing to trade alongside a diverse range of produce from around the globe. The sights and aromas draw visitors in, where they can sample all manner of produce including organic fruit and vegetables, artisan chocolates and cheeses, indulgent cakes, ethnic ingredients and the traditional Cork speciality of Tripe and Drisheen
2. St. Patricks Street
The main artery of Cork city, St. Patrick street is home to a diverse range of shops, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Although the street itself has had a recent makeover during Cork’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2005, and is now an attractive cosmopolitan space, the old buildings still retain the charm and architectural beauty of old.
3. Lewis Glucksman Gallery
The newest edition to Corks cultural community, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery is nestled among mature trees on the Cork University Campus. Blending seamlessly into it’s beautiful surrounds, the building itself has won awards and acclaim for its architectural brilliance. The Glucksman Gallery features display spaces, lecture facilities, a riverside restaurant and gallery shop, as well as art exhibitions.
4.University College Cork
Situated directly beside Hayfield Manor, the sprawling campus of University College Cork impresses with a range of architecturally diverse buildings and a beautiful riverside walk and gardens. Apart from being a recognised centre of excellence, the college is steeped in history and houses Ireland’s largest collection of ancient Ogham Stones.
5. Shandon Street
A Cork institution, St. Anne’s Church on Shandon Street stands tall and proud over the city. A short walk from the main shopping district, Shandon street is steeped in culture. Climb the 120ft steeple to ring the bells of Shandon – for years providing a familiar background toll to the bustling city. Stand and admire the panoramic views as the city and harbour of Cork is laid out before you. Also located on Shandon Street is the Butter Museum, which celebrates one of the great traditional industries of Munster, the worldwide exportation of butter.
6. Cork City Gaol
Step back in time to see how prisoners lived in the old Cork Gaol. This exhibition features amazingly lifelike wax figures, furnished cells, sound effects and fascinating exhibitions. During the summer months, there is also a haunting night time tour, and the venue is available for private hire for functions and corporate events.
7. Blarney Castle
Built by an Irish Chieftan over 600 years ago, Blarney Castle still stands proud today and is visited annually by thousands of visitors. The estate features acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the rock close, and of course the castle, home to the famous Blarney Stone. Fabled to bestow the gift of eloquence to any who kiss it, the stone is found at the top of the tower, remains one of the most popular attractions in the whole of Ireland.
8. Cobh Heritage Centre
Cobh town has a rich maritime history, and the Cobh Heritage Centre provides a sensitive and interesting account of Irish emigration from the most tragic periods in Irish history right up to the 1950’s. Cobh was one of the largest ports of emigration during the famine years of the 1840’s, when thousands of Irish people had to make the long journey to America and a new life. The museum also details the ill-fated journey of The Titanic, who’s last port of call was Cobh, and The Lusitania Ocean Liner, which was sunk off the coast of Cork.
A visit to St. Coleman’s Cathedral, which stands aloft the multicoloured buildings of Cobh dominating the town, is also a must and the view across Cork harbour from the cathedral site is well worth the steep climb.
9. Kinsale Town
One of Corks most renowned areas, Kinsale is a picturesque harbour town 30 minutes from the city. Visit Charles Fort and James Fort, the forts which remain from the 17th Century and together protected the town from attack. Experience a number of water sports, take a boat out fishing, or simply relax in a secluded cove. Kinsale is most famous for its vast range of restaurants and bars, offering an array of culinary delights which are difficult to choose from!
10. Midleton Distillery
Embark on a fascinating journey of discovery into how the famous Jameson Irish Whiskey is created, moving through time from the distillery’s inception to present day techniques. Learn the secrets of the smooth tasting Jameson Whiskey, (the secret is in the triple distillation process!) and the tour concludes with a whiskey tasting in the Jameson Bar – where you will receive a certificate for correctly identifying the whiskeys laid before you and of course for choosing Jameson as the superior whiskey!
Cork contains a number of Championship golf courses. Take a trip to the Old Head Golf Links in Kinsale, just a short and scenic journey from Shandon Bells Bed & Breakfast. Jutting out into the Atlantic Sea, this course has continually grown in popularity, and remains a top destination for many golf enthusiasts.
St. Patrick Street
The main street in Cork City, you can find almost anything you require, from books, music, arts and crafts, to sporting goods, jewellery and furniture. Large retail stores such as Debenhams and Brown Thomas are also to be found. A wide range of High Street fashion outlets as well as some local fashion boutiques, such as Quills, will satisfy a desire for clothing.
Voted one of the top ten best food markets in Europe by the Observer Food Magazine, the English Market in Cork is not to be missed. The atmosphere, sights and smells make the English Market a shopping experience unlike any other in the city. The bustling market is full of the freshest produce from local farmers and producers, including meat, seafood, and fruit & vegetables. Pick up a helping of Tripe and Drisheen, a traditional Cork dish. For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to the homemade cakes and chocolate stalls will be the highlight.
The most recent addition to Cork’s shopping scene is the Opera Lane Shopping Centre in the heart of the city. The stylish and comtemporary design of the complex merges well with the recently upgrade Patrick Street. Although not scheduled to be completely open until December 2009, Opera Lane will house 16 renowned high street shops, including favourites New Look, River Island, Top Shop, and new to Cork, The Gap and H&M.
Corn Market Street
Corn Market Street is home to an outdoor market, with Saturday the main trading day. An assorted range of stalls are to be found. Shop for clothes, shoes, gifts, drapery, toys, and traditional Irish music and instruments. After a hard day shopping, retire to the Hugenot Quarter where you can soak up the atmosphere in a vast range of cafés and restaurants.
Mahon Point Shopping Centre
A number of shopping centres line the suburbs, the most popular of which is Mahon point. A short 15 minute drive from the hotel, Mahon Point is host to a range of the most popular shops on the High Street today. Whatever your needs, Mahon Point can meet them. Round off the trip with lunch in the food court and a trip to the luxurious 13 screen cinema.
Blarney Woolen Mills
Located on the Blarney Woolen Mills site, the Woolen Mills gift shop specializes in the tweed and wool garments for which Blarney is famed for. A wide range of Irish gifts and souvenirs provide the perfect gifts for loved ones back home.
Things to do
On Our Doorstep
Situated directly across from the Hayfield Manor Hotel, the sprawling campus of Cork’s University is the ideal way to while away an afternoon. With a range of architecturally diverse buildings and a beautiful river way walk and gardens, UCC is sure to impress. Nestled within aged trees on the University grounds is the award winning Glucksman Gallery. A feat in architectural design, the Glucksman is a lure for visitors and Corkonians alike. Relax in the café before perusing the striking visual arts displayed in the gallery.
Cork City Gaol
Across the river Lee on the Northside of the city is the gaol. Take a tour through the gaol, as well as the radio museum which is housed there. Audio tours are available in 8 languages. For the more daring, the haunting night time tour is a new addition to the schedule. (night time tour only available Oct – May)
A Cork institution, Shandon Church stands tall and proud over the city. A short walk from the main shopping district, Shandon Street is steeped in culture. Climb the 120 ft steeple to ring the bells of Shandon and gaze at the panoramic views of the city. Also located on Shandon Street is the Butter Museum
Cork offers a wide range of dining options, with something to suit all tastes. Numerous award winning restaurants line the streets, with a good mix of traditional, European, and Oriental cuisine on offer. For a laid back afternoon, relax outside a café and watch the city go by.
Pubs and Nightlife
Cork experiences a bustling nightlife you would expect from a major city. From traditional Irish pubs to cosmopolitan cocktail bars, a diverse range of bars and pubs ensure a venue to suit your preference.
Cork is a culturally developed city, appealing to anyone interested in art, music, or the fine arts. A range of art galleries throughout the city showcase the works of both local and international talents. The Opera House and Everyman Palace Theatre run a diverse programme of music, plays, and dance throughout the year. With a number of annual Cork festivals, such as The Jazz Festival, Cork Arts Fest, and the Film Festival, it is clear to see why Cork was the European Capital of Culture in 2005.
And a little beyond
The village of Blarney is a must – see for any visitor to Cork. Stroll through the stunning gardens of the Blarney Castle, and take the opportunity to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone, which will bestow you with the gift of eloquence. For a unique shopping excursion, visit the Blarney Woolen Mills which specializes in Irish gifts and souvenirs. End the day with a taste of Irish cuisine in one of the many pubs and restaurants surrounding the village green.
The Harbour town of Kinsale has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cork. Famed for it’s abundance of award winning restaurants & stunning Harbour views, a trip to Kinsale is worth the mere half hour journey from the city. Beautiful scenic walks around historical grounds and coastal inlets are a great way to spend an afternoon, before dining in one of the many restaurants where seafood is a specialty.
The harbour town of Cobh is a popular tourist destination a short journey from Cork city, with a regular bus and train service to the town. The last port of call of the ill-fated Titanic, homage is paid to the thousands of Irish who emigrated in the Cobh Heritage Centre. Sample the fare in one of the various restaurants, and visit the Cathedral high on the hill overlooking the town.
Cork’s coastline offers picturesque scenery for you to enjoy. Stroll along the white sands of Inchadoney Beach, surf in Ballycotton, or take the ferry from
Glengariff to Garnish Island, famed for its stunning gardens and views. Visit the famous Bantry Bay, where sampling freshly caught seafood is a delicious treat.
The Jameson Old Midleton Distillery in East Cork is a wonderful, worthwhile excursion. Tour the distillery and learn how the world famous Irish Whiskey is made. Finish the tour with a whiskey tasting