Must See Places in Ireland: Cork City
We reinvented our life by moving to Ireland over five years ago. While we strategically plopped ourselves in the small charming town of Kinsale, we could not live here if we did not have the urban environment of Cork city so close by. The second-largest city in Ireland, Cork was voted one of the top 10 places to travel in the world by Lonely Planet in 2010. There are many things to see and do with Cork city and it is worth at least a day trip for any traveler staying in Kinsale. Cork city offers some interesting perspectives as well as historic views of Ireland, and therefore makes our "must see places" in Ireland list for all people traveling in Ireland.
Anyone staying in Kinsale will just take the main road out of town (R600) past the international airport, through the large Kinsale roundabout, and on to city center. We find that the city is easier to navigate by foot then by car. Therefore, it is our recommendation that as you are traveling towards the city center you stay to the left, which at a stoplight will force you to make a left turn. Continue forward to the next light where you will run into the T junction at the river. Make a left and then a quick right and stay in the left-hand lane as you run (for what would be known in the US as a block or two) along the River on your right. Turn right over the bridge, but do so from the left-hand lane (I know it seems weird but the right-hand lane is required to turn, and the left-hand lane puts you into a left-hand turn lane at the end of the bridge, where you want to be). Turn left at the light onto a street that curves around and directly after that curves you will find a public car park on your left that has the best parking rates in town. The tourist office is right across the street from the parking and they will help you sort out what else you want to see.
We recommend a hop on hop off bus tour of Cork city. The stops that we think are the most interesting include the Butter Museum and the Shandon church, the Gaol (jail), and St. Finbars Cathedral. The Butter Museum especially will be of interest because it explains so much of how Ireland moved from being a provincial country to a substantial player in the European Union in just a few short decades. Irish cheese and dairy produce are significant in the world market and how that came that came to be true if the story of the butter Museum.
Our personal favorite place to see and to eat is the English market. And oldest indoor market in Europe it has been running consecutively since 1788, running in the center of the area surrounding surrounded by shops and busy Cork Streets. As soon as you enter the market you know you have moved into a modern environment reminiscent of older times and places. Our favorites are the Farm Gate Café and Restaurant which overlooks the aisle with the organic foods, coffee vendor, the wine merchant and the fish aisle. We make a stop there to pick up delicacies not available in Kinsale, or to grab a bite for lunch.
You will find Cork city to be an incredibly lovely mix of things in a small urban setting between two waterways. It enjoys the hustle and bustle of an urban downtown area and is a not to be missed experience at Christmas because it enjoys consistent patronage in this day and age when much retail has moved away from city centers. If you are traveling in Ireland at St. Patrick's day you will find the Cork parade charming and great fun. If you were here in the summer, you will find the streets very entertaining with pretty consistent work from buskers of all kinds. In short, no matter when you travel through Ireland, Cork city is worth some of your time. If you're staying in Kinsale, it's just a short 45 minute drive up the road, and offers all the necessities found in any urban environment, surrounded by historical charm. Slainte'