In West Cork one of the great advantages we have is the “Real Capital” of Ireland in Cork City on our doorstep. Since moving to West Cork I have got to know and love Cork City. Love it for its human scale, dynamic youth culture, independent retailers, great bars, theatre and music. Situated on islands on the River Lee, sheltered by surrounding slopes it is a place of charm, vitality and culture at the head of the largest natural harbour in Europe. Cork has a maritime history spanning over a thousand years, set in a beautiful soft coastal environment where land, the people and their culture will allow you to discover a quirky way to stimulate your senses. With a young population due to its universities, colleges and Hi-Tech industries the City of Cork is a hopping place with music and venues, a cafe and food culture and a vibrant theatre, music and club scene. Cork city is full of culture, adventure, and character and always leaves you coming back for more. From Shandon Bells to Cork Opera house, dog cafes to the delicious food in the English market, Cork delights because there’s something new to discover around each corner. The Rebel City has a complex history, surrounded by waterways and packed with grand Georgian avenues but it’s the people who stand out the most. From Rory Gallagher & Cillian Murphy to Graham Norton and the O’Donovan brothers, the people of Cork have a certain magic about them.
Here are some things to do in a day in Cork.
Morning. Breakfast at the Idaho Café – serving from 8.29am in this charming café on Caroline St. behind Brown Thomas. Run with some personality by Richard Jacob and his wife Mairead (aka The Idaho Chef) it believes small is beautiful and has been voted Ireland’s Best Café, Twice. The music is cool too, they haven't played Norah Jones since they opened in 1994 and in summer try the Idaho Gelato next door. After breakfast, stroll up to the gallery built by a brewer (The Crawford Gallery in Emmet Place endowed by William Crawford of Beamish and Crawford) to explore the gallery’s intriguing mix of classical, period and contemporary art (and see if you can discover why Corkonians once Whipped The Herring Out of Town). Afternoon. Midday at The Glucksman – A brisk 20-minute walk from the city centre. The Lewis Glucksman is relatively recent addition to Cork’s cultural life, but already one of our great treasures. This award-winning building (designed by Irish architects O’Donnell + Tuomey) sits in the mature green spaces of the 19th century University College Cork (UCC)+ campus and has three floors of display spaces, hosting temporary and long-term exhibitions dedicated to art, architecture and design. With a riverside restaurant and gallery shop, it’s a must-see for those seeking culture and beauty in a stimulating setting. Afterwards take a walk in The Quad at UCC – Walk around to the university’s old “Quad”, the stone-faced, ivy-clad central quadrangle built between 1847 and 1849 (at the height of the Great Famine). The style is described as Perpendicular Gothic, the feel is ivy-league and you will find a very peaceful space to pause amidst the energetic life of our college. The first Professor of Mathematics here was George Boole and Boolean Algebra logic is credited with laying the foundations for the information age which is apt as with Apple, Dell and many more IT firms based here Cork is a Tech Hub and many of these companies have strong links to the UCC. Return to the city centre – Go via St Fin Barre’s Cathedral – the great neo-Gothic Anglican church situated on a site of Christian worship since the 9th century. You may catch a choir at practice or the epic pipe organ at play. Look out for the large gilded angel on the roof of the eastern end. An old city legend has it that when the Golden Angel blows his trumpet, the world will come to an end. It was designed (and some would say overdesigned) by the Victorian "High Gothic" Architect William Burges whose own famous Tower House in London was owned by the Irish actor Richard Harris and now by the musician Jimmy Page. Evening Early Evening Glass of Wine and Tapas – Drop into Meade’s Wine Bar on Oliver Plunkett Street, cosy, understated Georgian rooms with a great wine list and small bites with locally sourced ingredients. Or, you could go nearby to Orso, offering vibrant, North African influenced dishes and salads in a small space. Orso is a firm favourite with the locals, so you may have a short wait for a table. Just put your name and number on the list and go next door to Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy. It looks just like an old Chemist or Drugstore, the surprise comes when you push open the door. For fine dining – try Paradiso Restaurant on Lancaster Quay. One of the stars of the Cork restaurant scene with young Irish Head Chef Meadhbh Halton, this award winning vegetarian restaurant mixes international influences with the best of locally sourced, organic and artisan produce.
Afterwards head into the centre and drop into Rearden's Bar on Washington Street one of Cork's top lively music venues which attracts a young student crowd. The alternative is a Pint & Some Trad – Wind down your day with a pint of the local stout (Beamish or Murphy’s) in a nearby pub such the famous traditional Irish music bar, Sin É on Coburg Street or An Spailpín Fánach, which has traditional music seven nights a week.
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