The last in my series of posts about our recent visit to Cork, Ireland focuses in on Cork city centre, the harbour and the surrounding towns and villages that we visited during our stay.
Cork City Centre
Ireland’s southernmost city, steeped in history yet equally cosmopolitan with a distinctive continental air, Cork is a fun and friendly city. The city centre sits on an island in the River Lee and is full of unique shopping and dining options with unique boutiques and major department stores. There are a range of historic churches and cathedrals to visit exhibiting Gothic French architecture as well as some of the best art galleries, theatres and museums in Ireland.
Our highlights from our stay in Cork city centre included:
Cork English Market – A hub bustling hub of gourmet food with stands selling fresh produce including baked delicacies, cheeses, chocolates, fresh meats and fish, spices and much more, which has been standing for over 100 years. Produce from the English market is used locally in many of Cork’s restaurants and the market is visited by both locals and tourists alike to pick up a range of local produce.
Oliver Plunkett Street – Around the corner from The Clarion Hotel where we were staying a couple of the nights, Oliver Plunkett Street is a major shopping street and home to bars and restaurants making up the Cork nightlife. We listened to Irish music and watched a spot of Irish dancing in a pub on Oliver Plunkett Street before eating at the famous Market Lane restaurant.
O’Conaill’s Chocolate shop – After spending a few hours exploring Cork city we wanted to sit down for a nice hot chocolate and chose to stop by O’Conaill’s for a delicious drink and brownie – yum!
Midleton is a vibrant town with popular farmer’s markets and a range of independent shops. We went to Midleton for a tour of the Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery. Legend has it that it was here in Ireland that whiskey was invented! Our tour of the distillery taught us all about the whiskey-making process as we were guided through the old distillery, learning about the ‘Angel’s share’, the triple distillation process and how different whiskey’s get their flavours. We then got to try a glass of Jameson whiskey in a ginger cocktail before having our own private Premium Irish Whiskey Tasting Class.
Gourmet capital of Ireland, Kinsale is picture-perfect with its pretty harbour, yachts, narrow 18th century streets and amass of eateries and restaurants. Despite the rainy weather we faced when we got to Kinsale, it was a perfect spot to get some lunch in one of the local restaurants and had lots of lovely little shops to peruse out of the wet weather.
Famous as the last calling port of the Titanic before it made its fateful maiden voyage across the Atlantic, Cobh, pronounced ‘Cove’ is a brightly coloured coastal town, frequented by cruise ships and full of authentic Irish pubs. The cathedral on the hill is well worth a visit as well as taking in the scenic fishing scene by the waterside or getting out on the water via one of the several boat trips from Cobh.
Whilst we were in Cobh a cruise liner from Australia was in and locals and tourists alike were celebrating Australia day with flags, bunting and live music in the waterfront park. Holiday makers sat outside pubs in the sunshine, tasting the local beers and enjoying live music in the streets. There was a fun and lively atmosphere in the town and it made a great way to spend an afternoon. To eat out, we’d recommend The Quays Bar and Restaurant on the pontoon.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Cork and the surrounding areas and would definitely visit again.
I hope you enjoyed reading the posts in my Ireland series. Onto the next adventure…
Our tour of Jameson Whiskey Distillery and Premium Whiskey Tasting Course were complimentary from Jameson. All opinions remain my own.