Last year I lived for about six months in Cork in Southern Ireland. It’s not a huge city, but it’s got character, charm, and people with a funny dialect. If you go to Ireland I recommend you put Cork on your list of places to visit. It’s located about three hours’ drive from Dublin, so if you fly in to Dublin and want to go on a road trip, you can head south and then continue on to the coastlines or wherever you want to visit, perhaps finishing with the cliffs of Moher and Galway before heading back to the capital.
Anyway, I’ll get to some of the other Irish beauties some other time, but for now it’s all about Cork.
Cork’s city centre is quite cute, and it’s always a nice way to experience the city just by taking a leisurely stroll through the streets. Make sure to stop by the English market, where you can buy fresh produce, have a scone and a tea or coffee or just soak up the atmosphere.
If you’re in Cork it’s almost mandatory to pay a visit to the Blarney Castle. Either drive there or take bus 215 from the city centre, which takes you to the castle.
Once there, you can walk around the gardens and check out the castle itself. Personally I was a bit disappointed in the castles I visited in Ireland because they didn’t seem very ‘castle-y’ to me. Let’s be honest, they’re mainly ruins. Doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to visit a few, learn about the history and admire the surroundings, though.
The main attraction is not really the castle, it’s the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you’ll be very eloquent. In order to do so though, you’ll have to wait in line for a while and when it’s your turn you’ll be helped backwards (while lying on your back) so you can reach the stone. Then all you have to do is give it a quick peck while trying not to think about how many people just did this before you.
If the weather is a bit on the wet side one day (and chances are it will be, as it rains an awful lot in Ireland! Guess that’s the reason for all the lush greenness), you can spend a few hours visiting the Cork City Gaol. The old prison is now a museum with some pretty horrifying human sized wax figures or whatever they are, but regardless the museum is interesting and worth a visit.
My last few tips on what to do when spending a few days in lovely Cork is to have a pint at one of the cute pubs in town and enjoy the live music. A thing I love about Ireland is that there’s live music on most nights at most pubs, or at least it seems that way. The live music scene is awesome, and why not enjoy it with a pint of Bulmers or Orchard Thieves? They are ciders, in case you were wondering.
I’d also encourage you to check if there’s anything special going on in town while you are visiting. Check The Comedy Club, Everyman Theatre and Cork Opera House and remember to have a look at http://www.whazon.com. Chances are there’s a cool show, some stand-up comedy or a festival on which means you’re most likely in store for something good!