The Republic of Ireland’s second-largest and third most populous city, Cork is nevertheless second to none in the eyes of Corkonians, who refer to the city on the River Lee as the “real capital of Ireland”. County Cork, which takes its name from the city, is sometimes known colloquially as “The Rebel County” in reference to its role in the Irish War of Independence and even today its inhabitants are known among their countrymen for their pride and sense of identity.
In recent decades, Corkonians have gained another reason to sing the city’s praises (yet another reason to take cheap flights to Cork). The county has become renowned as a foodie mecca, with excellent local produce and top eating establishments such as the restaurant of Shanagarry’s famed Ballymaloe House gaining international acclaim for their mastery of traditional Irish cuisine. Cork’s gastronomic prowess is such that it is even one of the reasons given for the city being named by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit.
Cork’s climate is mild, with rain throughout the year and low likelihood of either extremely warm or extremely cold conditions. The city is, however, one of Ireland’s sunniest, with an average of 3.8 hours of sunshine every day. The summer months of June, July and August are generally the warmest and driest and the winter months of December, January and February usually the coldest and wettest.
When to fly to Cork
The summer months of July and August are Cork’s busiest in terms of tourism as this is when the weather is usually warmest and driest.
The winter months usually comprise Cork’s quietest period for tourism, as this is when the weather is coldest and wettest, and this is reflected in accommodation and travel prices and availability. However, the months immediately surrounding the July and August peak months (May, June and September) often enjoy favourable weather but are outside the high season’s crowds and price increases.
Getting around Cork
The city of Cork has a relatively small town centre, with major tourist attractions, nightlife, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance of each other.
For those wishing to travel to the outer and largely residential suburbs however, there are bus services departing from the Parnell Place bus station or main shopping thoroughfare Patrick’s Street.
Cork insider information
- University College Cork is open to the public and is notable for its splendid architecture and leafy, well-maintained grounds, which contain a number of California Redwood trees. The university’s Tudor Gothic quadrangle was devised by renowned local architect Sir Thomas Deane and based upon the style of those in Oxford University.
- Cork’s English Market, also known as Princes Street Market, is a covered market that was constructed in the 19th century, although markets have been held on the site since as early as 1788. Although the complex was damaged by fire in the 1980s, Cork City Council, taking care to preserve the original Victorian design, undertook extensive refurbishment and the market remains both a thriving institution of modern city life and a charming glimpse of bygone times.
- Kinsale, a lovely town in County Cork around 25km south of the city of Cork, draws many visitors due to its excellent water sports possibilities and high quality restaurants. Such is the town’s renown among foodies that it holds an annual Gourmet Festival each October, a tradition that has existed since 1976.
- Fitzgerald’s Park, alongside which the River Lee runs, is a beautiful natural area with many statues and sculptures, which is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Named after Edward Fitzgerald, the first elected Lord Mayor of Cork who held office from 1901 to 1903, the park contains Cork History Museum as well as a children’s playground and café.
- Elizabeth Fort, built in the 17th century, was originally devised as an outer fortification for the city but later housed a barracks, garda (police) station and prison as the urban area outspread around it. The historic star-shaped fort offers views of the city and is sometimes used as a venue for markets and other events.