Cork is located in the south of Ireland and is the countries third biggest city. It was founded sometime in the 6th century and was originally a monastic settlement which was established by St. Finbarr. It therefore has many centuries of history behind it and this makes it an interesting place to visit. Cork is a coastal city, being located in the area where the River Lee flows into the sea at Cork Harbor. This is one of the largest natural harbors in the world and Cork is well established as one of the major Irish seaports. With almost 1,500 years of history, Cork has many impressive attractions to offer the visitor and these are just a few of them.
The Cork Vision Centre
This attraction is located on North Main Street in the heart of the city and is one of the best places to learn of the history of Cork. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm and admission is free. The centre is located in an old building which in itself is worth seeing and inside there is a beautifully restored vaulted ceiling. One of the centers main attractions is an impressive 1:500 scale model of Cork which will give you a fantastic overview of the entire city. This is has been beautifully crafted and if you are a first time visitor to the city it is a great way to get acquainted with it. The centre also puts on a number of exhibitions of paintings, photography and other displays and is well worth a visit if you are in the city.
Church of St. Anne
This is one of the most famous buildings in Cork and dominates the skyline of the north side of the city, in an area known as Shandon. It was constructed in 1722 on the site of the Church of St. Mary which was destroyed in the 1690 siege of Cork. The church has some famous features which should be seen and heard when in Cork. The eight bells of the church were made famous after a song “The Bells of Shandon” was written about them and visitors are able ring the bells on a visit to the church. The bell tower itself is 120 feet high and can be seen from all directions as you approach the city. You can climb to the top of this and get a great view of the city. On top of the tower there is a weather vane in the shape of a salmon which is said to represent the fish of the River Lee. Each side of the tower has a clock face and to many people from Cork it is known as the “Four Faced Liar”. This is on account of the time being slightly different on each face during the hour as a result of the hands sticking on the numbers. The church is open Monday to Saturday with the core hours being 10.00am to 3.00pm. An admission charge of 6 Euro for adults and 5 Euro for children is charged for admission.
Cork City Gaol Heritage Center
The Cork City Gaol was opened in 1824 and for almost one hundred years was the location where the criminals of the city ended up. Many of these were transported on convict ships to America and Australia and the Gaol was an imposing place to be incarcerated. It closed after 99 years of use in 1923 when the remaining prisoners were either released or transferred to other prisons. For many years it lay empty and derelict until it was restored to its former glory in the early 1990’s and opened as a visitor center to give people an impression of what it was like to be locked up inside. On visit you can tour through the Gaol which was restored to look as it did during its 19th century heyday. For a spookier and more atmospheric experience you can even take a night tour of the Gaol.
This is located just outside the city and is a compulsory visit if you are ever in Cork. This is the location where the famous Blarney Stone is located and it is said anyone who kisses this will be given the “gift of the gab”, in other words the ability to sweet talk the birds out of the trees! The castle itself is a fairly impressive sight and is located in beautiful parkland where you can spend some relaxing time. The building was constructed in the 1400’s and has been a part of the landscape around Cork for more than 500 years. However if you want to kiss the Blarney Stone it involves hanging backwards over a sheer drop with someone holding onto your legs. So for a once in a lifetime experience that you are unlikely to forget a visit to the Blarney Castle is a must-do thing when you are in Cork.
The English Market, or to give it the proper name Princes Street Market, is a local fresh food hall in the city. It is famous for its daily supply of fish and also the meat that is sold. The market has a long history and has been at its present location since 1788. The building it is housed in is a beautiful example of Victorian style construction. It was originally built in the mid 19th century, although following a fire which damaged the building in 1980 large parts of it had to be restored. However, this was done to a style in keeping with the original design and a visit to the market is worth it to view the building. It also provides you with a chance to purchase some delicious local Cork food produce.
Ireland is a great country to visit and a trip to Cork while you are there is definitely something to do. It is a historic city with more than 1,500 years of history. If you get a chance to visit, take a trip to some of the attractions shown above and you are sure to have a great day out.