For such a small city, Cork certainly packs a punch. Set your pace to leisurely and explore a maze of side streets, a famous food market and historic architecture in this pocket-sized destination
If there’s one thing people from Cork love, it’s Cork. Local characters lovingly refer to the place as “the real capital of Ireland”, demonstrating the great pride that Corkonians take in their pretty city on the River Lee.
Pull up a stool in any of Cork’s pubs and, before long, you’ll have some local trying to explain to you why Cork city is superior in every way to Dublin, Galway, London, New York and Hong Kong... And here’s why: Cork has a laid-back attitude that makes it a deeply enjoyable city. The singsong inflections of the local accent might confuse you at times, but it’s also part of the colourful character. And it’s good to get to know it.
Corkonians say the words “like” and “boy” a lot, with genuine Cork man Micheál Deasy providing a good example: “We’ve a different pace of life here in Cork, like. We’re very relaxed, like! Unless ‘tis hurling or Roy Keane we're talking about, you’d get us going then all right, boy!”
Food for thought
With tree-lined streets, graceful avenues and an appealing tangle of laneways, Cork is a pretty city that’s easy to get around. It’s also one of the island’s biggest culinary hot spots. Fresh fish floods into the city from nearby towns such as Bantry and Castletownbeare, while artisan producers supply restaurant dishes and market stalls with sumptuous dairy products and meats from the surrounding pastureland.
Royal visits and delicious foods
Buoyed by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, the English Market is the go-to spot for local artisan produce. Sensory overload is the name of the game at this bustling covered market. Delis sit alongside organic farm vegetables, sandwich stalls and cafés, and an array of produce that you’ll not see this side of the souks of Marrakesh.
Look out for the local specialties tripe and drisheen (black pudding). It’s got to be tasted by everyone at least once in a lifetime!
If there’s one thing that Cork does well, it’s culture. Whether it’s art, opera, jazz, classical music or festival fun, the tempo of Cork’s cultural side is definitely upbeat. The Crawford Art Gallery boasts stained glass by Harry Clarke, sculpture casts by Canova and paintings by Jack B Yeats.
Cork City Gaol offers a fascinating insight into the life of prisoners in the 19th century; and the Ireland’s biggest wildlife park, Fota Island, is only 15 minutes from the heart of the city.
During the day, Plunkett Street and St Patrick Street sing to the sounds of buskers, and at night lively music seeps out of the bars and clubs.
Step on in... it’s hard not to – this is Cork, after all, boy.