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Cork, Ireland

Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) is situated on the banks of the River Lee in the south of the country. It is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the third largest in all of Ireland.

Cork is the anglicized version of the Irish word Corcaigh, which means marsh. The city center was originally built on marshland and boats were able to navigate into the channels which separated the many islands. Many of the wider streets, such as St Patrick's Street, the South Mall, and the Grand Parade, are actually built on former river channels. St Patrick's Street is Cork's commercial hub and is known colloquially as either "Patrick Street" or "Pana".

The center of the city forms an arrow-shaped island between the North and South channels of the River Lee. There are upwards of thirty bridges over the two channels.... Read more

Cork, Ireland


Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) is situated on the banks of the River Lee in the south of the country. It is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the third largest in all of Ireland.

Cork is the anglicized version of the Irish word Corcaigh, which means marsh. The city center was originally built on marshland and boats were able to navigate into the channels which separated the many islands. Many of the wider streets, such as St Patrick's Street, the South Mall, and the Grand Parade, are actually built on former river channels. St Patrick's Street is Cork's commercial hub and is known colloquially as either "Patrick Street" or "Pana".

The center of the city forms an arrow-shaped island between the North and South channels of the River Lee. There are upwards of thirty bridges over the two channels. This, combined with the one-way traffic system, can make the center a little bit confusing for first-time visitors. The River Lee flows from West to East, and outside of the center, hills rise steeply to the Northside, while the Southside is that bit flatter but still hilly in parts. St. Anne's Church watches over Shandon, just to the North of the river. The University is about 2 km to the west of the center.

The Train Station is about 1 km to the east of the center. Shops are generally concentrated around St. Patrick's Street, Oliver Plunkett Street, Paul Street, and North Main Street. Bars and Restaurants can be found everywhere, but especially around MacCurtain Street, Washington Street and Oliver Plunkett Street. Financial businesses are centered on the area around the South Mall and the Administrative heart of the city is on Anglesea Street.


The patron Saint of Cork, Saint Finbar (c.550-c.620) founded a monastery on the south bank of the River Lee approximately 1,400 years ago. A settlement grew up around this monastery and was added to (and ransacked) by Viking invaders during the ninth and tenth centuries. The town grew and the English Norman King Henry II, who had been requested by Pope Adrian IV (the only English Pope) to collect papal dues not paid, gave Cork city status in 1185.
Cork slowly grew during the late Middle Ages, developing into a crowded, walled city, centered around North and South Main Streets. The city enjoyed a golden age of sorts during the seventeenth century providing butter to ships which plied the North Atlantic. During this period the city expanded and many Italianate residences were built on the hills to the North in Sunday's Well and Montenotte.
After a sluggish start following independence, the city grew substantially during the latter half of the twentieth century. Currently, as a result of the Celtic Tiger phenomenon, development is having a profound effect on all aspects of the city, including its appearance, mostly for the better. From a small merchant town, Cork has grown into a cosmopolitan and vibrant city that, within the Republic of Ireland, is second only to Dublin in size and importance.
Statio Bene Fide Carinis' – "A safe Harbour for ships" is the motto of the city that is found on the coat of arms.
In recent years Cork has developed a slightly separatist mentality 1 when compared to other parts of Ireland. This is most evident in colloquial speech (Cork Slang) 2 and references to Ireland's capital, Dublin. This is, however, mostly tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Cork, Ireland: Port Information

Cruise ships usually dock close to Cobh (near the Cobh Heritage Center).
If the pier is busy with a large cruise liner, your ship will dock at Ringaskiddy (1.3 miles away), and a ferry will bring you to Cobh.

Small vessels can dock directly in the center of Cork.

Cobh is 12 miles away from Cork. You can use a train to get from one place to another.

Get around Cork, Ireland

By foot

Cork has a small city center. A visitor will most likely be staying, eating, drinking and touring in the city center. Taxis are plentiful and even on busy weekend nights, you shouldn't wait long for a cab. There is a bus service to the residential suburbs. Most buses leave from the main street, Patrick's Street or the nearby bus station at Parnell Place.
A guided bus tour departs from near the junction of Grand Parade and South Mall at regular intervals and provides an interesting tour of the main highlights of Cork for those who do not have a lot of time on their hands.
Cork City, though small, is a nodal point for shopping in much of Munster. The City has several large department stores and many smaller interesting shops.

By bus

Bus Éireann operates a bus service around Cork City with many of the buses stopping on Patrick's street in the city center. Some bus stops (including nearly all in the city center) are equipped with real-time information displays showing the next 3-4 buses due and their estimated time of arrival. All Bus Éireann buses are wheelchair accessible.

By taxi

There are numerous Taxi ranks located throughout Cork city. Fares are calculated on a meter and all taxis are the same price. Fares are also negotiable for longer out of town trips. Most drivers also offer fixed priced guided tours.
Taxis appear as normal cars except with a yellow bar above it with their license number and 'TAXI' or the Irish equivalent 'TACSAÍ' written on it. If the light is on, the taxi is available for hire, but some taxi drivers forget to turn on and off their light, so check to see if anyone's in the cab.

What to see in Cork, Ireland

  • Cork Vision Centre, North Main St. This is in a former church in North Main Street. It has a large scale model of the city and plentiful free tourist info which should help your understanding. Free.
  • Elizabeth Fort. Offers a good view of the city. However, it is not easily seen from the city. From Southgate Bridge, go up Barrack Street and turn right. The Elizabeth Fort Market Festival takes place on Sundays inside the historic fort walls and features Irish-made crafts, gourmet food, and entertainment. There is a police station within the fort.
  • St Finbarr's Cathedral. This is just a few minutes away from the Elizabeth fort and much easier to find. A fine 19th century Gothic Revival building. Visible from the back is a golden angel high upon a tower.
  • Shandon Church. The tower and bells are symbols of the city, and overlook it from the north. Visitors are allowed to ring the bells. This church is situated in a conservation area.
  • Lewis Gluckman Gallery. This piece of modern architecture is situated within the grounds of University College Cork. Within is state of the art technology to protect and display major exhibitions of international art, along with facilities for workshops, film screenings, lectures, and art classes. A café is situated on the ground floor.
  • Cork City Gaol, Convent Avenue, Sunday’s Well, ☎ +353 21 430-5022, e-mail: Mar-Oct 09:30-17:00, Nov - Feb 10:00-16:00. Slightly outside the city center, this attraction is very much worth the visit. It can be reached by using the city sightseeing bus, by taxi or by a 30-minute walk. There is a small admission fee but is worth every penny. The Gaol also provides fine views of the west of the city, including the University.
  • Cork Historic Walking Tours. Offer the visitor the opportunity to understand the City's history, from its foundation by St. Finbarre right up to the 20th Century. The tour brings the visitor to the site of the ancient monastery of Cork, through the areas of Viking settlement, the medieval streets of the Norman walled city and along the waterways of the expanding 18th and 19th-century city. The tour explains the history of the city in an informative and relaxed way.
  • University College Cork (UCC), Western Rd. Take a stroll through the College which is open to the public and take in the variety of architecture here, from the newly constructed extension of the Boole Library to the newly repointed limestone Honan Chapel which is popular for graduate weddings. 
  • Páirc Ui Chaoimh, Ballintemple. This 50,000 capacity stadium is the home of Cork GAA. It is open on matchdays and Monday and Wednesday for tours.
  • The Lough park, Lough Rd. Open 24 hours. Situated 1km south-west of Cork city center and is one of Cork's most fascinating amenities. It is a small freshwater limestone lake in a shallow depression. The Lough receives its water from springs and from water percolating from the ridge to the north on which stands the Lough parish church. It teems with wildlife and the central island provides a safe haven for the numerous types of wildfowl stocked in the Lough. The Lough delights a wide range of people of all ages who engage in such activities as jogging, walking, reading and nature study. There are also a restaurant and bar at the SW end, both with good views of the Lough. The Lough was declared a Public Wildlife Refuge in 1881 and is one of Ireland's oldest protected areas. 

What to do in Cork, Ireland

  • Fitzgeralds Park. Running beside the river Lee, the tranquil setting of Fitzgeralds park is a place for locals and visitors to relax in quiet natural surroundings with Cork history museum located in the park. Its a must see for nature lovers.
  • CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock, ☎ +353 21 432-6120, e-mail: 10:00-17:00. Last admission is 16:00. A 16th-century castle located approx. 2 km from the center of the city.


Cork has a thriving cultural scene that was acknowledged internationally when it was named the European Capital of Culture for 2005. Several festivals are held annually in the city giving the visitor an opportunity to experience a wide range of music, theatre, and film.
  • Midsummer Festival. A month-long festival featuring theatre, music, art, and poetry throughout the city. Mid-June to mid-July.
  • Film Festival. Established in 1956, the festival features an impressive selection of Irish and international films. Beginning of November.
  • Jazz Festival. One of the largest jazz festivals in Europe, it consistently attracts top acts from around the world. Last weekend in October.
  • The Avant Festival. A festival of the Contemporary Arts (including experimental writing) in Cork. Usually over about ten days in mid-July.
  • Elizabeth Fort Market Festival, Barrack St. Celebrating Cork Heritage at the Elizabeth Fort every Sunday, featuring Irish-made crafts, gourmet food, and entertainment all day long.


  • Watch a Gaelic Game. During the Munster Championship in the summer, a number of games are played in Páirc Uí Caoimh, while smaller games are played all throughout the year.
  • League of Ireland Football. Watch a Cork City F.C. soccer match during the FAI League of Ireland season from March to November. Turner's Cross Stadium is located 1.5 km south of the city centre. Home matches take place on Friday nights at 19:45.
  • Sail Cork, East Ferry Marina (3 mi east of Cobh), ☏ +353 21 481-1237. Teaches dinghy and cruiser sailing, powerboating and navigation. Courses are run all year round and are available for juniors and adults.
  • Watch Rugby Union ie 15-a-side. Munster Rugby are one of the four Irish professional teams playing in Pro14, the top European (predominantly Celtic) league. Their usual home ground is in Limerick, but some home games are at Musgrave Park, capacity 8000 (also known as Irish Independent Park). It's off Pearse Rd a mile south of the center.
  • Go to the Races at 3 Cork Racecourse (Mallow), Cork Racecourse, Killarney Road, Mallow, Co. Cork, +353 22 50207, A mixed course (flat and jumps), originally named Mallow (given its location), and is close to where an early steeplechase was conjectured to have been run in 1752.

Cork City Pub Crawl

If you're in Cork City on a Friday night and you want to go out and enjoy the city's pub culture then a great way to do it is by going on the Cork City Pub Crawl. It's a pub crawl/tour/party organized by local energetic youths, with the aim of creating a buzz or a bit of craic among the tourists and locals of Cork City. They run it every Friday, starting at 20:00 outside the GPO on Oliver Plunkett St. and take the group to 4 pubs and a club in Cork. The group is a fun blend of locals and backpackers, all up for the craic.

What to eat and drink in Cork, Ireland


  • Uncle Pete's Pizzeria, 31 Pope's Quay, ☎ +353 21 455-5888. 24/7. A pizza delivery place in Cork City, which places an emphasis on gourmet pizzas.
  • Captain Americas Cookhouse and Bar, 4-5 South Main St. A very popular restaurant with young, friendly and fun staff. Take a walk around the restaurant and look at the collection of music and celeb memorabilia.
  • Bana Thai, 15 Maylor St (Behind Brown Thomas), ☎ +353 21 425-1571, fax: +353 21 425-1583. Mediocre Thai food, really relaxed atmosphere.
  • Liberty Grill, Washington St. This American-style cafe offers excellent food, especially their burgers.
  • Nash 19, 19 Princes St (Off Oliver Plunkett St).
  • The English Market, Grand Parade, South Mall (enter via Grand Parade or Princes St). 09:00-17:30. This is an old covered market in the center of the city with an abundance of excellent food to suit all tastes and a pleasant cafe, often with live piano music. It also includes an excellent cafe: "The Farmgate".
  • The Bodega, Coal Quay. This is actually a cafe/bar set in a very large old industrial space. Very beautifully refurbished. As a place for a drink in the evening, it has become less appealing over the years. However, they do a very nice brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Also a very nice lunch menu. The crowd is a very diverse mix of young people, professionals, and families.
  • Café Paradiso, 16 Lancaster Quay, ☎ +353 21 427-7939, e-mail: Fantastic vegetarian restaurant, one that even the most hardened meat eaters flock to. At the upper end of the budget but worth it for the gourmet vegetarian delights. The Bridgestone Vegetarian Guide says "…I now firmly believe that Cork's Café Paradiso is the only vegetarian restaurant – maybe in the whole of Europe – where the actual enjoyment of the food is paramount."
  • Scoozis, 2-5 Winthrop Lane (Off Winthrop St), ☎ +353 21 427-5077, e-mail: One of the most popular restaurants in Cork, always busy for lunch and dinner. Booking is advisable, but people also often just turn up and queue. Staff are young and friendly, menu is varied, cheap and full of very tasty food. Perfect for big parties, small groups of friends and even a romantic meal for two.
  • Clanceys. A traditional Irish pub restaurant, that offers average food with an Irish atmosphere.
  • The Ivory Tower, Oliver Plunkett St. This restaurant is a Cork institution. Very eclectic and eccentric food. Cheap it is not, but prices have come down slightly in the last year. An 8-course Traditional Irish Food Tasting.  An intimate and unusual small room with very friendly staff and award-winning food. The famous dish from here is Swordfish with banana ketchup. For the less adventurous there is a good selection of high quality quite game-y food. A great wine list.
  • Fenns Quay, No. 5 Fenns Quay (Parallel to Washington St.). Quite a modern looking restaurant, a step-down price wise from the ivory tower. Contemporary continental cuisine with an excellent wine list in a nicely renovated old house. 
  • Luigi Malones, Emmet Place (Across from Cork Opera House), ☎ +353 21 427-8877. Famous for teenagers usually snogging out front.
  • Jacobs on the Mall, South Mall. Incredibly delicious gourmet food. Expensive but worth it, it's easily one of Cork's finest restaurants.
  • Quay CoOp, 24 Sullivans Quay (Just over the river across the footbridge from the Grand Parade), ☎ +353 21 431-7026. 09:00-21:00. The Quay Co-op Restaurant is renowned by diners in Cork and beyond for the quality and variety of its menu and the ambiance of its brightly decorated dining rooms. The restaurant is vegetarian and also provides an extensive range of vegan, yeast-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes from around the world. 
  • Elizabeth Fort Market Festival, Elizabeth Fort, Barrack St, ☎ +353 86 066-7030. 23:00. The Elizabeth Fort Market features gourmet food on Sundays including French crepes, halal BBQ, sushi, vegetarian cuisine, cupcakes, coffees, refreshments and more. Free.
  • Ruen Thai, 71 Patrick's St (Above Boots). Very good Thai Restaurant, plenty of seating inside. Relaxed atmosphere. Prices mid-range.
  • Ambassador Chinese Restaurant, 3 Cooks St (Next to Specsavers). Chinese food "par excellence". If you are only used to cheap takeaways then you are in for a pleasant surprise. Traditional Western Chinese food but done very well. Try the aromatic duck. Prices are moderate to high.​
  • Panda Mama Restaurant, 14 Parnell Place (Between the Bus Station and city hall), ☎ +353 21 427-4779, e-mail: The place is worth visiting for the decor alone; traditional Chinese wood and marble. Menu shows innovation for a Chinese restaurant outside Dublin. Food is good. Prices are Moderate.
  • Market Lane, 5 Oliver Plunkett St. This bustling two-story restaurant and bar near the English Market is a friendly and welcoming place with a lively atmosphere. Where possible they source locally produced foods and artisan products at a reasonable price.
  • The Idaho Cafe, Corner of Maylor St and Margaret St. 12:00-16:00. An excellent restaurant with locally sourced food. Traditional Irish dishes; everything on the menu is top notch. It is a tiny cafe, but the wait is never long and it's well worth it. All of the main courses are gluten-free, as well. 
  • Greenes Restaurant, 48 MacCurtain Street, +353 21 455 2279, M-W 17:30-21:00, Th-Sa 12:30-14:15, 17:30-21:30, Su 12:30-14:15, 17:30-21:00. Provides the best food that local produce can offer, using sustainable, seasonal, ingredients across a wide menu. 


Barrack Street is known in Cork for its amount and variety of bars. The Barrack St. Challenge challenge is to drink one pint in each bar starting in Nancy Spain's and still be able to walk by the time you reach the Brewery. Cork is also well known for its live music scene.​

  • An Bróg, 72-73 Oliver Plunkett St, +353 21 427-0074, Diverse patrons and music make this a favorite among all groups. A late bar open until 02:00. Expect to queue during the student year.
  • An Spailpín Fánach, South Main St (across the road from the Brewery). Irish for 'the migrant laborer' has traditional Irish music most nights, is a traditional Irish pub and has a great atmosphere after 21:00.
  • The Bierhaus, Popes Quay (At Shandon footbridge), +353 21 455-1648. Claims the best selection of beers in Cork, with over 50 on offer and new beers on tap monthly.
  • Costigans, Washington St. Great atmosphere at weekends. Always a good place to start when doing a pub crawl of the lively Washington St.
  • Franciscan Well (On the riverside north of the Gate Cinema). Has a large beer garden. Brews its own range of beers and has a fine section of foreign bottled beers. This pub organizes beer festivals twice yearly.
  • An Realt Dearg (Next to Elizabeth Fort & the Elizabeth Fort Sunday Market). The oldest pub in Cork. It was established in 1698 and the Dukes of Wellington and Marlborough were among its patrons. It is possibly the oldest pub in Ireland, a title that is claimed by a few pubs in the country. The Brazen Head in Dublin was a pub before The Gateway, but didn't hold a continuous license. An Realt Dearg used to be called the Gateway.
  • The hi-b, Oliver Plunkett St. (Off Grand Parade). This pub is owned by the grumpiest man in Cork. It is a tiny room up old creaking stairs. It has a nice mixture of old guys and a young crowd very friendly and welcoming to newcomers despite its intimidating aesthetic. On a Wednesday evening, an ole fella plays jazz piano and takes requests. This place is not for everyone, but if you like the kind of intimate place where a stranger sits to tell you his life story then the hi b is great. Be warned, the owner does not tolerate mobile phones in his bar (among numerous other things). Like a stranger sat at my table once told me "you are no-one in Cork until you have been kicked out the hi-b".
  • Long Valley, Winthrop St. Busy pub with a constant turnover of clientele. Sandwiches are not to be missed! Classical and jazz music in the background. A bit expensive, but not overly so given its city center location. 
  • MvM - Movies vs Music, Everyman Palace, McCurtain St. 23:45–02:30. This is the place to be on a Saturday night. Playing all the hits from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and modern day. They also have a comfy couch cinema showing the best in cult movie titles, such as Batman the TV movie, Whitnail and I, and Planet of the Apes. They have PlayStation, Connect 4, draughts and electro buzz in their games room or chill out with a lovely cocktail.
  • Mutton Lane Inn, Mutton Lane. (off Patricks St., first turn after Burger King). This is owned by the same people that run Sin é and it shows. Dark and very comfortable with candlelit tables and trad sessions every Monday night. Get in early this place gets packed. Nice selection of foreign and local beers.
  • Savoy Theatre, St Patrick's St. Home to "Bang" student night on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the college year, "Goldsounds" on Friday Nights and Rapture every Saturday Night Savoy is a must for under 20s visiting. Opens at 23:00.
  • Sin É, Coburg St. Dark, small and welcoming. Good for traditional music. One of Cork's more atmospheric pubs.
  • Tom Barry's. Another traditional Irish bar, on Barrack St.
  • The Oval Bar, South Main St (Behind the Peace Park). Alternative, electronica and a little bit of rock. Pints are great too. Punters are relaxed.
  • Boardwalk Bar & Grill, Lapps Quay (across from the City Hall), +353 21 427-9990. M-F 17:00-19:00, Sa 17:00-18:00. A 750-m² bar and grill with rich wood and leather paneling tinged with traditional Liscannor stone.
  • The Long Island Bar, 11 Washington St, +353 21 427-3252. A cocktail bar with an extensive menu and loads of variety. The staff is friendly and helpful and the drinks look and taste great. The resident DJs have the place rocking at night.
  • Bar Pigalle, Barrack St. French cafe-bar with great selections of French wines and Belgium/German beers, and ingenious yummy cocktails.
  • Thomond Bar, 2, Marlboro St (Between Patricks St and Oliver Plunkett St), +353 21 427-9747. One of Cork's premier rugby and sports pubs, offering food Monday to Saturday 12:00 until late and a guaranteed great atmosphere to watch any major sporting event.
  • Cask Cork, 48 MacCurtain St., +353 21-4500913, M-Th 16:00-23:30, F & Sa 12:30-00:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Cask Cork is a unique cocktail bar; every 12 weeks, a new menu is created, depending on what fresh produce is in season. Also fresh tapas and small plates to compliment the cocktail menu.

Shopping in Cork, Ireland

There are several large shopping centers in the city, as well as shopping streets and markets.
Clothes, accessories, arts, souvenirs, gifts, food, and more - Cork offers great shopping possibilities. 

Safety in Cork, Ireland

Cork is a safer city than Dublin. During the night caution should be taken, as in any situation involving large numbers of people and alcohol. Late night fighting and anti-social behavior are more common in Ireland and Britain than elsewhere in Western Europe and Asia. However, as in any city the vast majority of people are out simply to enjoy themselves.
Sensible and vigilant behavior when out late at night should mean that any trouble is avoided. If your safety feels compromised, approach any of the many police or doormen in the city center, who will be happy to provide assistance. There is virtually no gun crime in Cork, even the general police don't carry guns, so there is no need to worry about firearm violence.

Language spoken in Cork, Ireland

English is the native language of most Irish people and is spoken everywhere, but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official, and national, language.


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