Exploring Cork is a culture rich enjoyable pursuit. Ring the Shandon Bells in the 300-year-old tower of St. Anne’s Church, and marvel at the French Gothic spires of St. Finbarre’s Cathedral.
You will discover unique shopping and dining options, including the English Market, with its stalls selling foods from all over the world, and numerous pedestrian walkways and sidewalks flanked by smart boutiques and major department stores.
At every corner you’ll come across another panoramic view, another interesting architectural feature and some of the best art galleries, theatres and museums in Ireland. You will find more detailed information categorized under the following headings:
St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, Bishop Street, Cork, Ireland
Marking the spot chosen by the Irish saint back in 600AD the current building dates from 1880 and is certainly one of the jewels in Cork’s architectural crown. Dominating the city’s skyline it is an excellent example of the early Gothic style and is guaranteed to impress.
St. Anne’s (Shandon) Church, Church Street, Cork, Ireland
For a wonderful view of the entire city, you can climb the tower at St Anne’s Church, Shandon. The 40 meter ascent takes you up a narrow, winding staircase. On the way, ring the church bells as you pass but don’t forget to don the protective gear provided.
Cork City Gaol, Sunday’s Well, Cork
Stepping inside visitors are taken back in time to the 19th century. Wandering through the wings of the Gaol, the atmosphere suggests you are accompanied by the shuffling feet of inmates, each representing their particular period in Irish history from pre –famine times to the foundation of the state. The cells are furnished with amazingly life like wax figures; original graffiti on cell walls tell the innermost feelings of some inmates while a very spectacular audio visual tells the social history and contrasting lifestyles of the 19th century Cork and why some people turned to crime, and some ended up in Australia. This exhibition fascinates visitors of all ages and nationalities and the tour is available in up to 13 languages.
University College Cork, Western Road, Cork, Ireland
The university in Cork is a central part of the city and dates from 1845. Surrounded by wonderful gardens and wooded areas, organised tours are available but many like to stroll around at their own pace checking out the Crawford Observatory, the Stone Corridor and the Honan Chapel as they explore the campus.
Architecture of Cork, Cork City and surrounding areas
Architecturally, Cork is very much a city of the 19 th century. The majority of the buildings on the principal streets and many of the churches and public buildings date from that period. A small number of architects contributed enormously to the architecture of Cork during the century. The Pain brothers, James and George R., designed a number of public buildings in the first half of the century, as did the Deane brothers, Kearns and Sir Thomas. In the second half of the century Sir John Benson was very influential and notable contributions were made by William Burges, the designer of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral and E.W. Pugin who designed SS. Peter and Paul’s Church. Click Here for a guide to some interesting places of distinctive architecture in Cork.
Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork, Ireland
Home to one of the most exclusive art collections in Ireland, this gallery exhibits a collection of pieces by local, national and international artists. Over 2,000 works of art make up the gallery’s permanent collection. On the second floor, some of the displays are dedicated to Irish writers. Admission is free.
The Lewis Gluxman Art Gallery, UCC, Cork, Ireland
The Lewis Glucksman Gallery is a cultural and educational institution that promotes the research, creation and exploration of the visual arts. Located at the main entrance to University College Cork on Western Road, the Glucksman is an award-winning building that includes display spaces, lecture facilities, a riverside restaurant and gallery shop.
Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork, Ireland
At one time the Cork Public Museum, built in 1845, was
home to the Beamish family. Located in Fitzgerald Park, the museum offers free admission and now houses some of Ireland’s most important archaeological discoveries. Admission free.
Old English Market, Grand Parade, Cork, Ireland
The Old English Market is one of Cork’s most well known attractions and has been in operation since 1788. An indoor market consisting of a warren of different counters, there’s a huge selection of foodstuffs on offer. Don’t forget to check out the Market Street Parade, which is filled with small shops. It’s a great place to find vintage and retro clothes, as well as yarn, jewelry, crafts and gifts.
Coal Quay Market, Cornmarket Street, Cork, Ireland
Made up of various stalls lining the street, Coal Quay Market is so named because of its historical association with Cork’s coal suppliers. Here vendors sell everything from alternative clothing to watches to jewelry to flowers.
The Beamish Brewery, South Main Street, Cork, Ireland
Brewed exclusively in Cork, Beamish Stout is exported to over 30 countries worldwide. Guided tours of the Beamish and Crawford Brewery take about an hour and end with a free pint of Beamish. Tours depart Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10.30am and 12pm.
The Franciscan Well Brewery, North Mall, Cork City
The Franciscan Well Brewery was founded in 1998 on the North Mall in Cork City and is built on the site of an old Franciscan Monastery and Well, dating back to the year 1219. Legend has it that the water from the well has miraculous and curative properties and people would come from afar to drink from it. The Brewpub houses three serving vessels located directly behind the bar which dispense our beer to the taps. The tanks, which holds 300gl each, offer the beer drinker a unique setting in which to enjoy our craft brewed beer.
Blarney Castle & Stone, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
Located about 20 minutes from Cork city centre, this attraction is famous throughout the world. Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you’ll be blessed with the celebrated ‘gift of the gab’. Visitors from all over the world flock here and climb up the castle to try it out.
Blarney Woollen Mills, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
The presence of the mills was very significant for the town of Blarney during the Great Famine and sheltered its residents from the worst effects by keeping them in employment. It burned down in 1869 but was operational once again by 1871. In 1976 it was bought by a local man who transformed it into the most impressive craft shop in the country and one well worth visiting.
Blackrock Castle Observatory, Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork, Ireland
This high tech exhibit asks for a lot of audience participation and is really good fun. Plus you can help to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. In the interactive theatre, visitors are asked to undertake a mission to save the earth from a rogue comet.
Jameson Distillery, Distillery Walk Midleton, Co. Cork
Set on 15 acres and beautifully restored, this is where the true heart of Irish whiskey is born. Our old distillery is a unique experience with some of the buildings dating back to 1795. Take a journey through history and see the old kilns, mills and malting, water wheel and old warehouses. All of our tours end with a complimentary glass of Jameson whiskey.
Cobh Heritage Centre, Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland.
A historial and educational museum conveniently located next to Cobh railway station just 20 minutes from Cork city train station. The “Queenstown Experience”, located at the centre, has mostly permanent exhibitions of Irish history with focus on Emigration and Famine and the last stop over of the Titanic before it set sail to the United States before coming to it’s demise
Fota Wildlife Park , Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork, Ireland
Fota Wildlife Park is a 75-acre wildlife park located on Fota Island. The park is home to nearly 30 mammal and 50 bird species.Exhibits include Temperate Grasslands and Deserts,Hot Deserts, Tropical Savanna, Tropical Forests, Temperate Forests, Wetlands & Oceans.
Spike Island Cork, accessed by Ferry from Cobh, Co Cork.
Spike Island is an island of 103 Acres in Cork Harbour, Ireland. Originally the site of a monastic settlement, the island’s strategic location within the harbour meant it was used at times for defence and as a prison.The island has now been developed as a vehicle for retelling the story of 1400 years of history.
Garnish Island, accessed by Ferry from Glengarriff, Cork
A very tranquil yet popular tourist attraction located in the small harbour of Glengarriff, County Cork which forms part of Bantry Bay. It is renowned for its gardens, which are visited by thousands of people each year from all over the world and have been the subject of gardening programmes on television. The ferry journey takes passengers past a protected small island seal sanctuary.
The Dingle Penninsula, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Rent a car or join the PaddyWagon Tour bus from Cork city to the Dingle Penninsula which has amazing mountain scenery. You can stop at the famed Inch beach, one of the most famous beaches in Ireland, which is a site of outstanding natural beauty. Then to the most westerly drive in Europe known as the Slea Head drive. Marvel at the Atlantic Coast as you travel on this spectacular road which hugs the western shoreline. Enjoy great views of the Blasket Islands and maybe even see the “Sleeping Giant.” You can also stop in Dingle town. This is one of the most picturesque fishing towns in Ireland. Dingle town is the heart and soul of the Penninsula. Today is attracts visitors, including artists and musicians, from all over the world.
Killarney National Park and Gardens, Killarney, Co. Kerry
It was the first national park established in Ireland, created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932. Holding a diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, Oak and Yewwoodlands and the highest mountains in Ireland it has Ireland’s only native herd of Red Deer and the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland. Muckross House is a nineteenth century Victorian mansion set against the stunning beauty of the Park and has it’s own large cultivated Gardens. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendour and beauty.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
Rent a car or join the PaddyWagon Tour bus from Cork city to the Cliffs of Moher County, Clare. Start the day with a stop on the banks of the River Shannon in Limerick City, the capital of the mid-west region. Continue to the Cliffs of Moher and marvel at the majestic cliffs, one of Ireland’s most visited attractions.Continue along the Atlantic Coast and you will experience striking views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.Travel through the Burren region, and also stop at one of the most famous stone age burial sites in Ireland, the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Stop at Bunratty Castle, before driving back to Cork through the Golden Vale!
The Triskel Arts Centre, Tobin Street, Cork City
Incorporating Triskel Christchurch, Plugd Records, Gulpd Café, Corcadorca and The Black Mariah. This ever-growing arts center presents a variety of entertainment, from drama, poetry readings, and opera to traditional music concerts. There is also a full curriculum of daytime art workshops and gallery talks as well. The in-house restaurant is a stylish place to have a light meal or a cappuccino.
The Everyman Palace, 15 MacCurtain Street, Cork City
The Everyman Palace Theatre is a 650-seat Victorian theatre on MacCurtain Street in Cork, Ireland. Originally opened in 1897, it is the oldest purpose built theatre building in Cork.
The Cork Operah House, Emmet Place, Cork City
Cork Opera House seeks to serve its city and surrounding region as a municipal theatre, offering its audiences a world class programme of events across all disciplines in the performing arts.The Cork Opera House is the only purpose built opera house in the country, it includes a 1,000 seat auditorium and an orchestra pit that can hold 70 musicians.The Half Moon Theatre, a flexible studio space located to the rear of the main theatre, fosters a more experimental range of interdisciplinary projects, mixing drama with music and comedy.
Sheep’s Head Way ,West Cork, Co Cork
Walk the Sheep’s Head Way. Chosen as the best walk in Ireland by Country Walking magazine, this 90KM (55 mile) long distance walk has a huge variety of terrain all with beautiful views and there are many long and short loop walks available. Sheep’s Head has also been awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence – Tourism and Protected Areas
The Blackwater Way, North & East Cork
The Blackwater Way has been formed by combining two separate routes so that a linear route has been created cross-country all the way from Clogheen in County Tipperary to Muckross in County Kerry. Comprising the Knockmealdown Mountains , rich farms and woodlands of the Blackwater Valley , slopes of the Nagle Hills and Paps Mountains , as well as stretches of beautiful isolation and historic settlements. While there are no technical aspects to the trail it does stretch for 188KM’s in its entirety. Click here for more information.
The Beara Way , West Cork, Co. Cork
The Beara Way Walking Route is a walking circuit of the peninsula following side roads, boreens, bog roads and tracks, taking in all that is special about the place.There are also a number of excellent way marked looped trails to be discovered on the Beara Peninsula. More information can be found at here.
Ardnakinna Lighthouse Loop on Bere Island, West Cork, Co. Cork
Catch the ferry from Castletownbere to the western part of the island. The 10km route from the pier takes around four to five hours to complete and is described as moderate to difficult to complete and leads you on a series of tracks, lanes and pathways past the main landmarks of the area.Take in the stunning coastal views as you ascend the 258m hill that forms the spine of the island. It’s a gradual climb, but you will be rewarded by 360º panoramic views over Bantry Bay and the Beara and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas.
Check out the striking white tower of the Ardnakinna Lighthouse, which is characterised to mariners by its distinctive two white and red flashes every 10 seconds. Follow the route downhill again until you reach the starting point at the pier.
Walking The Vee, North Cork, Co. Cork
The Knowckmealdown Mountains straddle the Waterford – Tipperary border. The best known part of this range is ‘The Vee’, so called because of the V shaped gap in the mountains. Situated approximately 40 mins drive from Fermoy, there are a number of parking places on this road which provide great views of the surrounding countryside as well as a mountain lake known as Bay Lough. Access for walking is easy. There are a number of roads through the mountains and the Knockmealdowns also contain several way-marked walking routes. The highest point is Knockmealdown mountain at 794 metres (2605 feet). On the southern side of the mountain you have Mount Mellary which is a Cistercian monastery and the stunningly picturesque village of Lismore.
Lough Hyne, accessed via Skibbereen, Co. Cork
A salt water lake, Lough Hyne contains rare sea life and is Ireland’s only Marine Wildlife Reserve. The nearby woods are popular amongst walkers for the spectacular view from the top of Knockomagh Hill. The lake is now fed by tidal currents that rush in from the Atlantic through Barloge Creek. The stretch between the creek and the lake is known as “The Rapids. Castle Island is located in the center of the lake. The island contains the ruins of Cloghan Castle, once a fortress of the O’Driscoll clan. This area is great for walking, kayaking and bird watching and close to the Skibbereen Visitor Centre.
Gougane Barra National Park, accessed via Ballingeary, Co.Cork
The River Lee rises here in Gougane Barra and flows through beautiful scenery to reach Cork Harbour after a distance of approximately 50km. There is a tiny island in the lake at Gougane Barra connected to the shore by a causeway. It was here that St. Finbarr, patron saint of Cork, founded his early Christian monastery, before moving down the River Lee to establish a monastery at what is now St. Finbarrs Cathedral in Cork City. There is a small church on the island in this beautiful and serene location away from the hustle & bustle of daily life.
There are a number of walks in Gougane Barra forest park comprising some 350 acres. Nature lovers will revel in the extensive areas of natural and cultivated forestry which abounds in wildlife.
For the more energetic there are interesting walks ascending the slopes, from which the panoramic view of mountain and crag, lake and forest, present a picture of unforgettable beauty. For the skilled walker the high hills surrounding Gougane Barra invite you to sample the joys of hill walking.
Other activities in Gougane Barra include cycling; the Cork City-Beara-Gougane Barra cycle route passes through Gougane Barra and finishes here. Gougane Barra is a favourite location for trout anglers and painters.
Lakes of Killarney, accessed by Killarney, Co. Kerry
Killarney National Park is a unique and special place. Situated in south-west Ireland, close to the most westerly point in Europe, the National Park covers over 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) of mountain, moorland, woodland, waterways, parks and gardens.
The mountainous old red sandstone uplands support large areas of blanket bog, and the remoteness and relative inaccessibility of some of these areas aids the continued survival of Ireland’s only remaining wild herd of native Red Deer
Central to Killarney National Park are the world famous Lakes of Killarney, which make up almost a quarter of the Park’s area. The three lakes are known as the Upper Lake, Muckross Lake (Middle Lake) and Lough Leane (Lower Lake), and are joined at the ‘meeting of the waters’, a popular area for visitors to the Park.It is here that the Old Weir Bridge (thought to be over 400 years old) can also be seen.
There are many Brown Trout in the lakes, in addition to an annual run of Salmon. Unusual fish species include the Arctic Char (usually found much further north, and thought to be a relict species left behind in Killarney after the last ice age) aswell as a large variety of migratory birds.
Cleninchaquin Park, accessed by the Kerry side of the Beara Peninsula
An award winning family owned park and working sheep farm providing breath-taking landscapes and scenery in which it is a sheer delight to wander around over streams with log bridges, mountain paths with carved steps, through rock passages, along glens and lakes to higher altitude.Marvel at the view overlooking the lakes, delicate green meadows, a spectacular 140 metre high waterfall, woodlands and Kenmare Bay, all framed by the Killarney McGillicuddy Reeks along the horizon.
The Gearagh, accessed by Macroom, Co. Cork
The remains of the only ancient post glacial alluvial forest in Western Europe. It was formed at the end of the last Ice Age and consists of a vast area of submerged islands that once supported a rich woodland flora.This area is also of interest to bird watchers with both summer and winter migrants – from October onwards migratory birds arrive in large flocks.The Gearagh is a haven of peace and tranquillity and provides ideal opportunities for off road walking. There is a particularly popular Gearagh Loop which is approximately 6.5KM in length.
Millstreet Country Park, Millstreet, Co. Cork
This beautiful 500 acre estate features miles of themed gardens,wildlife,short riverside and lakeside walks, longer walks for all grades of enthusiasts coupled with archaeological sites to explore and many other historical features. Should you prefer less physical endeavour our conducted open-air transporters (Safari Buggy’s) will ply you along the mountainside tracks. Millstreet Country Park is a particularly popular spot for nature lovers. It teems with wildlife including deer, foxes, squirrels, badgers, otters, and a variety of birds. It also poses a number of rare trees and is dotted with picnic sites.
Skellig Michael,Co Kerry
UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Skellig Islands, stand aloof in the Atlantic Ocean some 12 km southwest of Valentia Island, County Kerry. From any angle, or from any vantage point on the nearby Ring of Kerry, they are spectacular pinnacles, which have magnetised viewers throughout all history – and beyond.
The Skellig islands are world-famous, each in its own right: Skellig Michael is known throughout the world of archaeology as the site of a well-preserved monastic outpost of the Early Christian period – now designated a World Heritage Site. The endurance of the monks and their dedication in gaining a foothold on a tiny, inhospitable, offshore island and creating a community there that survived for some 600 years can only be admired. However, only when you travel there will you truly appreciate what these great people encountered. There is a precipitous walk from the ferry to the summit that has not changed in almost 1500 years, so only able bodied people will be able to participate.
Small Skellig, which you will pass on the way to Skellig Michael is equally renowned, but in matters of ornithology as the home of some 27,000 pairs of gannets – the second largest colony of such seabirds in the world.
Cape Clear accessed by Balitmore or Schull Ferry, Co. Cork
Cape Clear, Ireland’s southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht (Gaeltacht means Irish speaking area) island is 5Km long by 2Km wide. The islands wild romantic scenery, its sparkling harbours, its cliffs and bogs and lake, all contribute to the island’s unspoilt charm. Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills. Myriad stonewalls have a patchwork effect on the varied landscape. Megalithic standing stones and a 5000 year-old passage grave, a 12th century church ruin, a 14th century O’Driscoll castle, cannonaded in the early 1600?s, suggest times past.
Cape Clear’s remote island location, coupled with its proximity to the continental shelf, make it the foremost centre for bird watching in Ireland. While whale, leatherback turtle, sun fish, shark and dolphins are spotted regularly. Most of the 150 inhabitants speak Irish and English. Removed from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, Cape Clear offers relaxation, nature & peace yet it also offers a wealth of healthy outdoor activities for all the family including windsurfing, canoeing & fishing.
Dursey Island accessed by Beara Peninsula
Connected to the mainland by Ireland’s only cable car, (the only cable car in Europe that goes over water) it carries you 250m above Dursey Sound and is licensed to carry 6 adults or 1 cow.
Dursey Island, which is also part of the Beara Way (walking route) is the most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands and is also one of the quietest with only 12 people living on the island and no pubs or shop to be found. Despite this however, visitors flock here every summer looking for relaxation peace & solitude. The island itself which is only 6.5km long and 1.5km wide provides tourists some lovely walks and breathtaking scenery of the of our coastline.
The island is particularly famous for it’s variety of bird species make it a birdwatchers‘ heaven with birds from America and Siberia being spotted here.
Sherkin Island accessed by Baltimore Ferry, Co. Cork
Sherkin Island lies southwest of County Cork, just a short ferry ride from the pretty village of Baltimore alongside the other islands of Roaringwater Bay.The island measures just 5 km by 3 km and is blessed with stunning scenery and magnificent unspoiled beaches. The island with an average population of just 100 people, has a primary school, two pubs with a hotel, a bed & breakfast, a community centre and a church, all the essentials an honest man needs to survive.
Ballyhoura Way in counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary
The Ballyhoura Way was laid out along part of the route the great Irish chief O’Sullivan in the 15th Century took with his clan from St John’s Bridge to Limerick Junction. The route crosses four upland stretches, one long one over the Ballyhoura Mountains (highest point Seefin, at 510 metres), two short ones over Benyvoughella Hill and Slievereagh, and then a long traverse on the southern flanks of the Slievenamuck ridge, overlooking the beautiful Glen of Aherlow. The aggregate ascent over the route is just over 1700m, and apart from a few short steep sections there are no significant climbs. Along the way walkers might want to linger at the great Norman castle at Liscarroll, in the pretty villages of Kilfinane, Ballyorgan, Ballylanders and Galbally, or the storied town of Tipperary. The terrain consists mainly of tarmac roads, forestry tracks, and open moorland and field paths.
Cork County Council have put together very useful brochures on a self guided city centre walking tours of Cork which bring you to the most famed and off the beaten track hidden gems of attractions in Cork. There are 3 elements to the walks; a leaflet with a map and description of sights along the way, ten information panels at key locations along the route and fingerpost directional signs to help guide you between the information panels.
Shandon Area Walk: A self-guided walking tour of Cork’s historic Shandon district
South Parish Walk: A self-guided walking tour of Cork’s South Parish district
City Centre Island Walk: A self-guided walking tour of Cork’s City Centre district
Bridges in Cork City, crossing the north and south channels of the River Lee
Cork City Centre is built on an island in the River Lee just upstream from Cork Harbour. The two channels of the River Lee which embrace the City Centre are spanned by twenty two public bridges and this gives Cork a distinctive continental air. Cork City Public Bridges are listed here in order from East to West and it can be a really nice day pursuit to cross over and back the many bridges of architectural variety.
North Channel – River Lee: Michael Collins Bridge (1984) , Brian Boru Bridge, St Patrick’s Bridge (1859), Christy Ring Bridge (1987), Shandon Bridge (2004) – Pedestrian, Griffith Bridge 1961 (on site of North Gate Bridge-1856), St Vincent’s Bridge (1875) – Pedestrian, Mardyke Bridge (2005) – Pedestrian, Daly’s Bridge (1927) – Pedestrian & the only suspension bridge in the city and Thomas Davis Bridge (originally Wellington Bridge – 1830).
South Channel – River Lee: Eamon de Valera Bridge (1984), Clontarf Bridge, Parnell Bridge (1971), Trinity Bridge (1977) – Pedestrian, Parliament Bridge (1806), Nano Nagle Bridge (1985) – Pedestrian, South Gate Bridge (1713), Clarke’s Bridge (1776), St Finbarre’s Bridge (1999), Donovan’s Bridge (1902), Gaol Bridge (1840) and O’Neill Crowley Bridge (originally George 1V Bridge – 1820).