It’s the same all over the world. To enjoy the heritage of your own city, we often need a visitor to come to town! In Cork, we’re lucky enough to have Heritage Day, an event run every summer since it was first organised as part of the European Capital of Culture celebration year in 2005.
Record visitor numbers, a record number of buildings open and a beautiful day at the end of a really nice summer meant that this year’s event was bigger than ever, and given that Cork’s Heritage Pubs celebrate the best of ‘old’ Cork in many ways, we took the opportunity to take a peek inside many of our neighbouring four walls.
The South Main Street – North Main Street axis is one of the oldest and most historic parts of the city. As you walk from the quay down North Main Street to the end of Barrack Street, you pass Vicarstown Inn and BDSM on the left and, just past Bishop Lucey Park off the Grand Parade, the old lady that is The Oval.
It was around the corner from our favourite indie pub in Cork that we started our Heritage adventure. First up, the Masonic Hall on Tuckey Street. The Hall’s building, like many of Cork’s treasures, doesn’t give away a single hint of what lies within.
Adorned with spectacular coats of arms hanging from the walls and ceiling, the Masonic Hall’s Lodge Room is a throwback to olden times when ceremony and stature were central to everything. The building, its interiors and artefacts have been wonderfully preserved and well worth a visit if you every get the chance to view it at any stage.
The interior design of nearby buildings isn’t so striking, but the ceiling within The Oval is a sight to behold. The venue was custom designed for Beamish and Crawford brewery many moons ago, and is the only pub within the city limits to be included on a list of important 20th century buildings. So, the next time your listening to some tunes and enjoying a quiet pint, be sure to look up!
Next on our list was the Triskel Christchurch. While the Masonic Hall stands to attention at one side of Bishop Lucey Park, the Triskel – in contrast – seems to languish quietly amongst the leafy surrounds opposite. A venue, record store and eatery today, Christchurch is believed to be amongst the first few churches built in Cork. Having been restored to its former glory in recent years, it now adds another beautiful monument to the South Main Street landscape.
It’s thirsty work admiring our city’s finest heritage points (!), so after a quick stop at the Mutton Lane Inn – just off the English Market – we made our way to the Crawford Art Gallery. Originally Cork’s Custom House, the gallery has found a new lease of life in the last decade and you need to venture upstairs and in to the right to view one of John Butts’ most famous pieces: View of Cork. Painted in the later half of the 18th century, the painting gives a fantastic view of the city back then from a position located somewhere high on the northside of the Lee.
Venturing back towards North Main Street, our final stop was the Cork Vision Centre @ St. Peters. Another church site that dates back to the 12th century, the present building was developed in 1788 and is now an arts and heritage centre – hosting collections of work from some of Cork’s finest creative talents on an ongoing basis. (We approve!)
Having absorbed the history, taking the photos and admired some of what’s always on our doorstep, we reflected on the day by winding our way into the ageless Vicarstown Bar – which, like many of the buildings, has been spruced over over the decades but has never lost its original, medieval touch…