Cork - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Cork


Situated on an estuary that opens onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Ireland's second largest city has been likened to Dublin without the traffic: it is crammed with cosy pubs and cultural attractions.

There is a great rivalry between Cork and Dublin, and the majority of Cork's residents see themselves as distinctly different from the rest of Ireland. Cork is vibrant and cheerful, with music, theatre and film all playing a major role in city life, while world-renowned annual festivals add to the lively atmosphere, making it the European Capital of Culture 2005. Cork is also the gastronomic capital of Ireland, with the widest variety of top class restaurants in the country, while nearby Kinsale, also known for its host of award-winning pubs and restaurants, hosts the annual Gourmet Festival.

Located in the southwest, County Cork is the largest county, noted for its maritime identity and impressive coastal scenery as well as being the site of Ireland's most famous attraction, the Blarney Stone. The city is a major seaport and is built around the waterways of the River Lee, connected by numerous bridges; Cork harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Sights include the 19th century Cork City Jail, the protestant Finbarr's Cathedral, and the Cork Museum, which is largely given over to the nationalist struggle in which Cork played an important role. Popular day trips from Cork include Kinsale and the beautiful coastal scenery of County Kerry, including the Dingle Peninsula.

Information & Facts


Cork has a mild climate with plenty of rainfall throughout the year. Average temperatures are never too extreme and Cork often experiences a lot of fog which is most common during mornings and during the winter months. But Cork also experiences a lot of sunshine, some of the most in Ireland and the summer months are the best time of year to visit the Emerald Isle. Average summer temperatures in Cork range between 14°C and 20°C (57°F and 68°F) while average winter daily temperatures hover round 8°C (47°F).

English, Irish (Gaelic) is spoken in some Western areas.

The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR). Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change and ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards, as well as travellers cheques, are widely accepted.

GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Blarney Castle is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, built around 1446. An ancient stronghold of the MacCarthys, Lords of Muskerry and one of the strongest fortresses in Munster, its walls are 18ft (5m) thick in places. Located on the parapet of the castle is the famous 'Blarney Stone'. According to local legend, after kissing this stone, one will have the gift of eternal eloquence, or 'the gift of the gab'. To do this, visitors must first position themselves on their back, then lean their head back and downwards over the edge of the battlements, with the help of an attendant, in order to kiss the underside of the stone. The last admission to the castle and grounds is 30 minutes before closing.

Positioned on a hill overlooking the River Lee, the Church Tower of Shandon (Old Fort) is possibly Cork's most famous landmark. The red sandstone and white limestone tower is crowned by a large, salmon-shaped weather vane. The Church of St Anne is famous for its bells, which inspired the song 'The Bells of Shandon', and also for its clock, which is referred to as 'the four-faced liar' because each of its four faces reads a different time.

Kerry County is widely considered to be the most beautiful region in Ireland, and is the country's most popular tourist destination with its rugged scenery, picturesque villages, coastal resorts and wealth of attractions. The panoramic Ring of Kerry drive on the Iveragh Peninsula affords breathtaking views of Ireland's highest mountain, the Lakes of Killarney, and the stunning coastal scenery made up of rocky headlands, beautiful sandy beaches and windswept cliffs. There are also many ancient archaeological sites, castles and monasteries along the way. The Killarney National Park is also renowned for its scenic beauty and variety of outdoor activities. The Dingle Peninsula has magnificent coastal scenery and is the westernmost point of Europe, while villages like Kenmare and Dingle offer a wonderful glimpse of traditional Irish life where fresh seafood and authentic music make any visit a delight. County Kerry is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, ideal for boating, fishing, walking, golfing and cycling.

Kinsale is an old fishing village just 18 miles (29km) south of Cork. Best known for the world renowned Old Head Golf Links, with its spectacular setting on a narrow head leading out into the Celtic Sea, Kinsale has a number of sights of interest including The Courthouse and Desmond Castle. Built as a custom house by the Earl of Desmond in the 16th century, Desmond Castle has a colourful history, ranging from Spanish occupation in 1601, during the Battle of Kinsale, to its use as a prison for captured American sailors during the American War of Independence. It is known locally as 'The French Prison' after a tragic fire in which 54 prisoners, mainly French seamen, died in 1747. The castle was also used as a borough jail from 1791 to the onset of the Great Famine when it was used as an auxiliary workhouse tending to the starving populace. Two miles (3km) outside Kinsale is Charles Fort, constructed in the late 17th century on the site of an earlier coastal fortification, it is a classic example of a star-shaped fort. William Robinson, architect of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, and Superintendent of Fortifications, is credited with its design. As one of the largest military forts in the country, Charles Fort has been associated with some of the most momentous events in Irish history, the most significant of which include the Williamite War in 1690 and the Irish Civil War in 1922-1923. Across the estuary is James Fort, an earlier structure, which was designed by Paul Ive in 1602. Kinsale has also earned itself the reputation as the gourmet centre for Ireland with numerous award-winning pubs and restaurants, and the annual Gourmet Festival in October.

The old gaol looks the same as it did in Victorian times with its barred windows, cells, bare corridors and iron stairways behind the unwelcoming gateway. Life-size figures, sounds and exhibitions tell the story and social history of 19th century Cork and the reasons people turned to crime.

Often referred to as Panaby the locals, St Patrick's Street ( Sráid Naomh Pádraig) is Cork's main street, famous for its beautiful architecture and great selection of shops. In fact, St Patrick's has twice been awarded as Ireland's best shopping street, and is home to retailers such as Debenhams, Dunnes Stores, Barratt's and Brown Thomas. The Ruen Thai Restaurant on St Patrick's is also a popular stop.

The 16th century Princes Street Market is a covered food market in the centre of Cork. It is well known among locals and tourists alike for its varied selection of produce from all over the world, and especially for its fresh fish. The market is referred to locally as the English Market and the nearby St Peter's Market is known as the Irish Market.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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