Taking inspiration from our last blog post – Cork an underrated city – we decided to look at Cork city with a fresh pair of eyes. If I was somebody visiting Cork for the first time, what are the places that really showcase the heart and soul of the city?
Yes, noted, there are a number of Cork city tourism resources out there. However, the majority of which take the approach of showcasing the most popular “tourist attractions” in the city. Not advising people on how to experience the real charm and beauty of the city. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful and iconic land marks within the city limits such as The Holy Trinity and St. Finbarrs Cathedral, but do they really show you what makes Cork city great?!
At Cork Heritage Pubs, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do so – we’ve created our own list of places to go and see, off the beaten track in some cases. After some heated debate, here is the list we came up with and some activities to do along the way
1. The English Market – Eat A Dozen Oysters
Location: Grande Parade, Cork.
Opening Times: 8.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m., Monday to Saturday
About: Located in the heart of Cork City, the English Market is a roofed food market and has been trading since 1788. Unknown too many, the Market is one of the oldest municipal markets of its kind in the world and is a must see. It really showcases the variety of produce Cork has to offer, from fresh fish to loaves of artisan bread.
More information: www.englishmarket.ie
Buy a dozen oysters from the laughing fisherman at O’Connells, get them opened and carry them off to the Mutton Lane tavern and knock ’em back with a pint of plain (Guinness). The Mutton Lane is easy to find and is located just seconds from the Mutton Lane entrance to the English Market. Make sure you take the time to indulge in this Cork delicacy.
2. The Coal Quay Food Market & Meet The Four Liars
The Coal Quay Food Market
Location: Corn Market Street, Cork city centre
Opening times: 8:30am – 6pm, Saturday
About: The Coal Quay is one of the most historic parts of the city, and the Coal Quay Saturday Food Market has re-established itself as a significant part of the city’s culture while becoming a well-loved feature of Cork city life. It’s a real farmer’s market and buffet of locally produced foods: chemical free Vegetables, Flowers, west Cork Fish, Eggs, Bread, Cakes & Buns, Cheese, Hot Miso soup, Chilli sauce, Jams, spiced Beef, hot Crepes and Kebabs. There’s also hot drinks, live music & much more.
More information: www.corkbilly.com
Location: Shandon Bells & Tower, St. Anne’s Church, Shandon, Cork City
Opening Times: Monday – Saturday: 10.00am – 4.00pm,
About: Built in 1722, Shandon Bells are one of Cork’s most iconic landmarks. The church of St. Anne is built over an older church that dates back to the early12th century. Upon visiting you have the unique opportunity to play the bells (tunes are on numbered cards) for all to here and climb to the top of the steeple for unparalleled views of the city.
More Information: www.shandonbells.ie/
Wake up early and go on a lazy tour of the markets, treat yourself to a buffet of local foods before heading up to ring the world-famous Shandon bells (only 15 minutes’ walk away). Enjoy the spectacular 360° views of the City from the Shandon Bells Tower, and remember to find out why it is called the Four Liars?!
3. The Marina and Pairc Ui Chaoimh – Get a taste of Irish Sport
Location: Port of Cork City, Marina – 3km from the city centre
About: Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy and unwind. There are picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling. If you are a real sea-lover, throughout the year there are a number of Marine leisure events to participate in also, that include sailing, rowing and swimming, so it’s worthwhile keeping an eye on the events calendar.
More information: www.portofcork.ie/
Pairc Ui Chaoimh – GAA
Location: Páirc Uí Chaoimh, located on the Marina just 3km from the city centre
Opening Times: Check fixtures online, here
About: Pairc Ui Chaoimh is where major hurling and Gaelic football matches are played, known as the home of Cork GAA. The stadium features one covered stand, one open stand and two terraces behind each goal, with a capacity of 43,000. The stadium hosts Cork senior hurling and senior football league and championship games, along with local county club finals.
More information: www.gaacork.ie
Check the fixtures online (see above) before your stay, you will find yourself very unlucky if there isn’t a game at Pairc Ui Chaoimh or Pairc Ui Rinn – sister stadium, located just outside the city. Head down the Marina a couple of hours before “throw in”, soak up the refreshing sea air and unwind (perfect cure for any hangover). There are plenty of pubs to pop into also, to soak up the pre -game atmosphere. Then sit back and enjoy the game, it will be sure to get the blood boiling.
4. Cork’s Nightlife – Opera, Traditional Music & much more
The Cork Opera House
Location: Emmett Place, Cork city
Opening Times: Upcoming shows, here
About: Cork Opera House is southern Ireland’s premiere venue for the best concerts, comedy, drama, dance, family fare, and, of course, opera. Located in the heart of Cork city, it has been a Cork cultural institution for nearly 160 years. Year on year it produces both indigenous and international top class acts for the people of Cork and further afield to enjoy. It’s a building that has stood that test of time and has been modified and refurbished in recent years. It’s truly is an establishment us Corkonians are proud of and an establishment which is proud to be pure Cork.
More Information: www.corkoperahouse.ie/
Location: Oliver Plunkett Street, Washington Street, North Main Street & Coal Quay
Opening Times: 6pm – 2:00am
About: There’s always a buzz around Cork city at night. Thursday to Sunday are considered the busiest nights, but there is something going on every night – some nights you may just have to look that little bit harder. For years, Oliver Plunkett Street and Washington Street have been established as the hot spots in Cork but, of late, the North Main Street and Coal Quay areas have come to the fore and guarantee a fun night out. There are a variety of pubs, late bars and clubs, for all ages to choose from, just follow the locals as they won’t set you wrong
Traditional Music – Sin E
Location: 8 Coburg Street, Cork
Opening Times: Mon – Thu: 12:30 pm – 11:30 pm, Fri – Sat: 12:30 pm – 12:30 am
About: Known as the home of Cork traditional music, the Sin E hosts trad sessions on Tuesdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. This house has been hosting music sessions since the early 1970s when the doors of many of the city’s pubs were closed to traditional music, and has gone from strength to strength in recent years.
More information: https://www.corkheritagepubs.com/pubs/sin-e/
This is very much dependent on your own personal preference and what you consider a good night out. But, whether it’s a nice meal, a couple of glasses of wine and a show at the Opera House, or whether you decide to take Cork by the scruff of the neck and go all out on a pub crawl, there is one thing for sure, Cork night life offers something for everyone, no matter what age you are!.
5. The Hike – Take Time to Take it All in
Location: Climb to the top of Patrick’s Hill, turn left onto Richmond Hill and sit in the park– 1km from the city centre.
This won’t be on any of the local tourist hot spots guides for sure, but if you get the chance, climb to the top of Patrick’s Hill, turn left onto Richmond Hill and sit in the park admiring the view of Cork’s Northside. By no means is it Niagra Falls, but it can be quite peaceful so try and time it so you catch the sun setting. It’s a steep but short climb and a good way to work off some of the weekends “fun”.
So there you have it. I’m sure many of you will have your own opinions of what you think are fun things to do for first time visitors of Cork city, and I’m sure we have missed a trick or two along the way. So feel free to share your thoughts!