We know that Cork English Academy students love to explore Cork as much as they can. One of the most fun-filled and jam-packed destinations to visit in Cork is Fota Island. The island is just a short drive away from the city but the most convenient transport to visit this beautiful spot is via train. Hop on at Kent station and ride to Fota for less than 3 euro. Fota Island is made up of several destinations, Fota house and gardens, Fota wildlife park and Fota Island Golf Club and Resort.
Fota House first belonged to the Smith – Barry family. Originally from Wales, the Smith-Barry family came to Ireland during the Norman invasion. They were granted land around the Ireland in 1185 including Fota Island. The house on the island was originally a hunting lodge until it became the families main home in the 1820’s. In 1975 the house and the ground were sold to UCC. You can visit Fota house and see the preserved ballrooms, servants quarters and kitchens.
Fota gardens are are full of exotic trees and flowers. Much of the planting of these exotic plants was done by the Smith-Barry’s. The would have travelled around the world bringing back beautiful trees and other dazzling plants. In 1996 the State took over control of the gardens and they are now administered by the Office of Public Works.
Fota Wildlife Park
The idea of a Wildlife park in Ireland began in 1979 by Dr. Terry Murphy, the then Director of Dublin Zoo. Professor Tom Raftery, then Vice-President of University College Cork (UCC) and Director of the Fota Estate, heard of Dr. Murphy’s plan and thought Fota was the perfect location. The plan was approved and building began. The first animals were introduced to the park in late 1982 and the park opened its gates in the summer of 1983. All animal, with the exception of potentially dangerous ones such as tigers and cheetahs, roam free around the park. Watch out for the lemers, the love to steal visitors lunches. Many of the animals at Fota are under threat of extinction, and Fota Wildlife Park is involved in breeding programs for these endangered species, as well as being a breeding source for other zoos around the world.
Fota Island Resort
The resort on the island began with the state of the art golf course. Golf was first played at Fota in 1886. It has since run through several owners and is one of the finest golf courses in Ireland, playing host to tournaments such as the 011 PGA Europro “Audi Cork Irish Masters” and the Murphy’s Irish Open. Along with the golf course there is a 5 star hotel and spa.