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Cork

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With a population of 123,000, Cork (Gaelic: Corcaigh [1]) is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and is situated on the banks of the River Lee in the south of the county.

Get in

Flights from numerous domestic and European locations - Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Budapest, Cardiff, Dublin, Durham/Tees Valley, Edinburgh, Glasgow(International), Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London(Gatwick, Heathrow & Stansted), Lorient, Malaga, Manchester, Munich, Newcastle, Nice, Paris, Plymouth, Prague, Rome, Southampton, Warsaw.

Have a look at the 'Direct Destinations' section on the Cork Airport website for information on destinations and the airlines that serve those cities: http://www.corkairport.com/AR_Cork/Live/Lv_pres_GenTemplate.asp?strPage_Name=CK_schdest

Get around

Walk. Cork has a small city centre. A backpacker will most likely be staying, eating, drinking and touring in the city centre. Taxis are plentiful, except for late Friday and Saturday nights, and there is a bus service to the residential suburbs. Most busses leave from the main street, Patricks Street.

Understand

Cork was originally built on several islands (the Gaelic name, Corcaigh, means marsh), and the center of the city sits between the north and south channels of the River Lee. In fact, many of the wider streets, such as Patrick Street or Grand Parade, are actually built on former river channels.

Since the City was founded by St Finbarr over 1,000 years ago, it has grown from a small merchant town into a cosmopolitan and vibrant city that within the Republic of Ireland is second only to Dublin in size and importance.

Statio Bene Fide Carinis' – "A safe Harbour for ships" is the motto of the city that is found on the coat of arms.

See

  • Cork Vision Centre. This is in an former church in North Main Street. It has a large scale model of the city which should help your understanding. Free admission.
  • Elizabeth Fort. Offers a good view over the city. However it is not easily seen from the city. From Southgate Bridge, go up Barrack Street and turn right. There is a police station within the fort.
  • St Finbarr's Cathedral. This is just a few minutes away from the Elizabeth fort and much easier to find. A fine 19th century Gothic building. Visible from the back is a golden angel high upon a tower.
  • Shandon Church. The tower and bells are symbols of the city, and overlook it from the north. This church is situated in a conservation area.
  • Lewis Gluckman Gallery. This piece of modern architecture is situated within the grounds of University College Cork. Within is state of the art technology to protect and display major exhibitions of international art, along with facilities for workshops, film screenings, lectures and art classes. A café is situated on the ground floor.
  • Cork City Gaol. Slightly outside the city centre, this attraction is very much worth the visit. It can be reached by using the city sightseeing bus, by taxi or by a 30 minute walk. There is a small admission fee, but is worth every penny. The Gaol also provides fine views of the west of the city, including the University.

Eat

Cork is the gastronomic capital of Ireland, with the widest variety of top class restaurants in the country.

  • LuLu's. 73 Grand Parade. One of Cork's newest restaurants, but already known as a good spot. Great for breakfast and lunch, 7 days a week and later opening at weekends. Definitely worth a visit.
  • English Market. This is an old covered market in the centre of the city with an abundance of excellent food to suit all tastes and a pleasant cafe, often with live piano music.
  • The Bodega. Coal Quay. This is actually a cafe/bar set in a very large old industrial space. Very beautifully refurbished. As a place for a drink in the evening it has become less appealing over the years. However they do a very nice brunch menu on a saturday and sunday. Priced from 8-12 euros. Also very nice lunch menu. The best eggs Benedict I have had outside New York City. The crowd is a very diverse mix of young people, professionals and families.
  • Café Paradiso. Fantastic vegetarian restaurant, one that even the most hardened meat eaters flock to. At the upper end of the budget but worth it for the gourmet vegetarian delights. The Bridgestone Vegetarian Guide says '…I now firmly believe that Cork's Café Paradiso is the only vegetarian restaurant – maybe in the whole of Europe – where the actual enjoyment of the food is paramount...' Find them at 16 Lancaster Quay, Cork. Tel 00353 21 4277939.
  • Scoozis. Off Winthrop Street. One of the most popular restaurants in Cork, always busy for lunch and dinner. Booking is advisable, but people also often just turn up and queue. Staff are young and friendly, menu is varied, cheap and full of very tasty food. Perfect for big parties, small groups of friends and even a romantic meal for two.
  • The Ivory Tower. Oliver Plunkett St. This restaurant is a Cork institution. Very eclectic and eccentric food. A five course set meal at 55 euros a head. Cheap it is not. However an intimate and unusual small room with very friendly staff and award winning food. The famous dish from here is Sword fish with banana ketchup. For the less adventurous there is a good selection of high quality quite game-y food. A great wine list.
  • Fenns Quay. No. 5 Fenns Quay, parallel to Washington St. Quite a modern looking restaurant, a step down price wise from the ivory tower. Contemporary and very high quality and continental cuisine in a nicely renovated old house. Expect to pay about 35-40 euros a head.
  • Quay Coop. This a great vegetarian restaurant across the walking bridge on Grand Parade. Great selection of veg a vegan food. Freshly baked bread on premises. This was a coop set up in the eighties by a few of the alternative communities in Cork. It has since become one of the best health food and veg restaurants in the city. www.quaycoop.com
  • Wagamama. South Main St. This is a Japanese noodle bar. Good lunch option starting from 8 euros. Nice Japanese beer. Has a bit of a chain feel. But good food and reasonable.
  • Ciao Ciao. Washington St. Grand Parade end. Great little Italian place. Run by and patronised by Corks growing Italian community. This place is kind of kitsch looking with the Chianti bottle candle holders etcetera but great Italian cuisine at reasonable prices.
  • Currans. Adelaide St, off North Main Street. Cheap and cheerful is the best way to describe this restaurant, with the charming rooftop garden a favourite when the weather suits. The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated with items from old Cork buildings, such as pews from an old church and radiators from a renovated hospital.
  • Lennox's. Barrack Street, Angelsea Street. This is one of the best chip shops in Cork, extremely popular with the locals, quite cheap, although a little outside the city centre. Chips & a burger: €5 or less. The Barrack Street shop is at the upper end of the street, perfect for when you feel like chips after a night out.

Drink

  • Sin é, Coburg St. Dark, small and welcoming. Good for traditional music. One of Cork's more atmospheric pubs.
  • Long Valley, Winthrop St. Busy pub with constant turnover of clientele. Sandwiches are not to be missed! Classical and jazz music in the background. A bit expensive, but not overly so given its city center location.
  • Franciscan Well, On the riverside north of the Gate Cinema. Has a large beer garden. Brews its own range of beers and has a fine section of foreign bottled beers. This pub organises beer festivals twice yearly.
  • An Bróg, Oliver Plunkett St. off Grand Parade. Diverse patrons and music make this a favourite among all groups. A late bar open until 2am. Expect to queue during the student year.
  • The Mutton Lane Inn, Mutton Lane. off Patricks St (first turn after burger king). This is owned by the same people that run Sin é and it shows. Dark and very comfortable with candle lit tables and trad sessions every monday night. Get in early this place gets packed. Nice selection of beers both foreign and local.
  • The hi-b, Oliver Plunkett St. off Grand Parade. (Upstairs). This pub is owned by the grumpiest man in cork. It is a tiny room up old creaking stairs. It has a nice mixture of old guys and a young crowd very friendly and welcoming to newcomers despite its intimidating aesthetic. On a Wednesday evening an ole fella plays jazz piano and takes requests. This place is not for everyone, but if you like the kind of intimate place where a stranger sits to tell you his life story then the hi b is great. Be warned, the owner does not tolerate mobile phones in his bar (among numerous other things). Like a stranger sat at my table once told me "you are no-one in Cork until you have been kicked out the hi-b"
  • Freak Scene, Club One Off Oliver Plunkett Street. Great Student night every Wednesday. Running for 11 years it has outlasted all competitors in a fickle Cork Scene. Casual Dress, in fact wear whatever you want!!!! Freakscene website
  • Map of live music venues
  • The Gateway Bar. Can be found next to Elizabeth Fort (see above), and is the oldest pub in Cork. It was established in 1698 and the Dukes of Wellington and Marlborough were among its patrons. It is possibly the oldest pub in Ireland. That title is being claimed by a few pubs in the country. The Brazen Turk (?) in Dublin had was a pub before The Gateway, but didn't hold a continuous license!

Sleep

Budget

There are a handful of hostels in the city:

  • The Bru Hostel on MacCurtain Street is a nice new hostel with a bar attached.
  • Kinlay House is on the north side of the city, in an increasingly international area of the city. It can be found underneath Shandon.
  • Sheilas Budget Accommodation Centre [2] Rooms from €10
  • Corks International Youth Hostel Member of the Hostelling International chain - discounts for members.

Mid range

  • Jury's Inn. This is a 3 star hotel, part of the Jurys Doyle group. Rooms from about €90. Can be found on the quays, very near the bus station.
  • Metropole Hotel. This is also part of a group, Gresham Hotels. Rooms from about €110. This hotel is on MacCurtain Street, on the north side of the city centre.
  • Imperial Hotel. This hotel, right in the city centre, can have decent weekend deals, but is edging towards the more expensive end.

Splurge

  • Hayfield Manor. Possibly Corks grandest hotel. Hidden away at the top of a cul-de-sac on Perrot Avenue, off College Road, this 5 star hotel is an expensive and luxurious hotel. Backpackers normally work here, rather than spend the night.
  • Kingsley House Hotel. Slightly outside of town, near Cork County Hall, (tallest building in Ireland), on Carraigrohane Straight this hotel is new and currently being expanded. Has a reputation of being a lovely, top-end hotel.
  • The Clarion Hotel. Brand new, boasting a nice riverside promenade, this hotel is proving very popular. Easily accessible, within close walking distance of the city centre.

Get out

  • Blarney Castle, This is a famous and probably over-rated Irish attraction. A historical story behind it has given rise to the word 'blarney' meaning the ability to talk your way out of trouble.
  • Cobh, Formerly known as Queenstown. This was the port for Cork in the ages of the great lines, and still sees the occasional cruise ship. It can be reached by a suburban train.
  • Fota Wildlife Park and Arboretum, set on an island in Cork harbour and reached by road or the Cobh suburban train.
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