If you’re visiting Ireland, no tour can be considered complete without a trip south-west to County Cork, home to a unique strain of Irish character. Beyond the city, West Cork is famous for its craggy coastline, that rugged beauty we call typically Irish.
And that’s what the locals will be sure to tell you. Known as the “Rebel County”, with its capital styling itself “the People’s Republic of Cork”, Corkonians are famous for being proud of their home and fiercely independent.
As Ireland’s biggest county, there are endless things to do and see in Cork, city and beyond – we’ve picked out the top 8 you cannot miss on your trip to the “real capital” of Ireland!
1. Wild West Cork beauty
West Cork has been named the “most romantic place on earth” by the Wall Street Journal. And when you visit, you’ll see why. With a coast exposed to winds and waves for thousands of years, it is here you encounter the mix of misty greens and blues we know to be truly Irish. Hire a rental car or do some hiking along the coast to experience a wild otherworldliness you won’t find anywhere else.
2. Hi-B Bar, Cork City
This is a pub that has banned mobile phones! It doesn’t get more traditional than that. And that’s not the only thing the Hi-B Bar has banned. It’s said that half of the people of Cork are barred, while the other half claim to be. Politely known as “ecletic”, you won’t find a pub more stuffed with local characters.
3. Follow the Queen to the English Market
After a night in the Hi-B, you’ll be seeking the more refined face of Ireland. And you’ll find it in the English Market, recently visited by no less than the Queen of England. Ireland’s most famous food market, it is buzzing with artisan producers of local grub of the highest quality and those who like to eat it. Assemble a picnic from its huge range of traditional Cork fare and more recent additions to the Irish diet.
4. Gifts from Cork by Wild Goose
With so many international chains now selling in Ireland, it can be difficult to feel sure that what you’re buying really is local. There are no such problems with Wild Goose. From a studio located in Cork, they have been creating homewares hand-made by skilled craft-workers using bronze and cast-iron since 1970. And if you’d rather not add to your luggage, buy from TheIrishStore and we will ship directly to the USA.
5. Titanic Experience, Cobh
West Cork has a special place in the hearts of many of Ireland’s emigrants, descendants and diaspora. It was from these harbours that so many left over the centuries to scatter all over the world. When they return, many make a pilgrimage to the Titanic Experience in Cobh, a place alive with memories of those who left never to return. The port in Cobh is where most emigrants boarded for voyages to the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa. It was also the last stop of the Titanic before it set sail across the Atlantic. The Titanic Experience is even located in the original offices of The White Star Line.
6. Seafood in Crosshaven
When in Cork, it would be a shame not to sample the internationally-renowned produce of the seas around you. Nothing could be tastier than the open crab sandwich from the aptly named Mad Fish Kitchen in Cronin’s in Crosshaven, now famous with visitors worldwide.
And once you have fallen in love with fish, you’ll want to send a taste of Ireland home. We ship the famous Irish delicacy of smoked salmon all over the world.
7. Real Irish sport – Gaelic football and hurling
Cork has a proud history of success in both of Ireland’s most popular native sports. Described as the world’s fastest field sport and played with a stick and ball, hurling fascinates all newcomers. A team game of ancient Irish origin, it has been played for over 3,000 years. Cork’s history of excellence makes its 50,000-seater stadium Pairc Ui Caoimh the perfect place for an introduction to this incredibly fast-paced sport. Summer visitors should be sure to sample the atmosphere of a day out in the stands of a real GAA match, and nowhere better than Cork.
8. The Four Face Liar
While in Cork, make an authentically Irish racket by ringing the bells at St. Anne’s Church in Shandon. But try not to be fooled by its famous Four Face Liar. The four clocks on the tower at St Anne’s are said never to have shown the same time. We won’t make any insinuations about local character – the Corkonians would prefer to do that themselves.
Are there any famous Cork sights or hidden gems you think we have overlooked? Let us know in the comments below!