Hello all you fans of everything Irish,
This week we’re off to discover just a few of the many delights of county Cork. Because it’s Ireland’s biggest county and has so much to offer, I think it’s only fair to split the journey in two so this week I’ve decided just to explore east Cork. So fasten your seatbelts-first stop-the vibrant and bustling Cork City. Let’s climb one of its many hills and enjoy some great views.
1.The Shandon Bells
You haven’t really visited Cork until you make a visit to St.Anne’s church and ring the famous Shandon Bells. You can spot its weather vane from afar which is in the shape of a fish. It’s 13 foot long and named “de goldie fish” by the locals. The clock itself is also locally known as “The Four-Faced Liar”. There’s 132 steps to climb where you can enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of the city below.
2. The English Market
After all that climbing and ringing of bells, I’ve certainly worked up an appetite so let’s head (thankfully downhill) back into the heart of the city for a visit to a Cork institution, The English Market. I love this place. The present building dates back to 1786 and there’s always a wonderful bustling atmosphere here. It’s a foodie’s paradise with the fare on offer from all over the world as well as the best of local Irish food. My favorite thing to do here is to have a leisurely lunch in one of the restaurants and do some serious people-watching.
3. Blarney Castle
Of course, we could spend the whole day in the city discovering it’s many treasures but no trip to Cork would be complete without kissing the Blarney stone so it’s time to head north of the city and a visit to Blarney Castle. More climbing I’m afraid-lots of steep spiral staircases to reach the famous Blarney Stone. Once you’ve kissed it, enjoy the stunning views below and then come back down to earth and stroll around the gorgeous grounds of this 16th-century castle. There’s the amazing Fern Garden and arboretum as well as my personal favorite-the creepy but fascinating Poison Garden.
Well, I don’t know about you but I could do with some sea air so let’s head for the coast and the unspoiled East Cork village of Ballycotton. You can stretch your legs and do the stunning Ballycotton Cliff walk. The 5-mile path takes you from the village to Ballyandreen Beach along the cliff tops with lush meadows on one side and the ocean on the other. You can also take a boat trip to Ballycotton Island and visit the lighthouse there where you can climb the steps (I know-more steps but worth it!) and enjoy more stunning views.
Nearly time to go home but before we do, no visit to this part of the world would be complete without a stop off at Cobh. Formerly Queenstown, this picturesque town is built on a steep hill (more climbing!) that sweeps down to the harbour- the second largest in the world after Sydney Harbor. Steeped in history, Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic before she embarked on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. Of the six million Irish emigrants that left Irish shores for America between 1848 and 1950, 2.5 million set sail from this very port. Today it welcomes some of the biggest cruise liners in the world and is one of the best places to experience our world-famous Irish hospitality.
Well, it’s goodbye from me now. I can hardly wait for next week when we explore the stunning delights of West Cork!
Slán go fóill!
The Irish Store Founder