If you are planning a trip to Ireland, do consider visiting Cork – the real capital of Ireland, as locals will insist. In Cork it’s easy to experience the Irish culture in a genuine way even on a brief visit- here are 7 things to do and places to see.
1. Irish food rocks and Cork is a perfect place to discover it – just hit the English Market, where you’ll find local artisan stalls with all sorts of goodies on sale – bread, fish, cake, cheese, meat, sweets – you name it, and they have it here.
The city has a number of great restaurants serving local produce and imaginative dishes.
2. Irish people are well known for their friendliness and Cork is a place where you can easily end up having a chat and a laugh with a perfect stranger. During my ten years in this city I’ve observed first hand Irish good humour and hospitality time and time again. Even with the economic downturn, the vibe in the city remains a very welcoming one to the visitor.
3. If you know any Irish people, you know they like having craic, pronounced ‘crack’ (and no, it’s not an illegal drug…. this word has an approximate meaning of ‘having fun/good time’. Here’s a better explanation of this elusive term, click here to read).
Maybe because of its craic-loving people, Cork has so many festivals, making the city a vibrant and fun place to visit at any time of the year. I recently visited Cork Guinness Jazz Festival and had lots of craic with friends!
Apart from festivals, Cork boasts a number of theatres, concert venues and galleries with exciting year-round programmes. A great little guide of city events is Whazon , the printed version is a small booklet with a wealth of information, plus a convenient city map, easily fitting in your pocket or a handbag.
4. In Ireland lots of things happen in pubs – it’s a meeting place, an entertainment centre, a place to have a meal and spend some time with friends – all in one. Even if you are not a pub-goer, but want to meet some locals, consider visiting a pub, that’s where people congregate on wet evenings. Have a glass of something, listen to some music (often live) and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you– don’t worry, it’s acceptable to talk to strangers and even have a laugh together (see point 2 above).
5. Throughout history Irish monks set up lots of monasteries and centres of learning in Europe. Today, the tradition of learning continues with a number of colleges in Cork where students from Ireland, Europe and the rest of the world come to get their degrees.
While most of us, visitors, don’t have any plans of getting yet another degree, a stroll in UCC campus will make you wonder why you never considered studying here, on one of the most beautiful campuses you’ve ever visited: a campus giving an impression of a well-groomed park with a lively ambiance on weekdays and quiet nostalgic beauty at the weekends.
6. A short walk from UCC campus will take you to Fitzgerald’s Park, a favourite place of many locals – it’s a bustling place on a sunny day and isn’t entirely empty on a rainy afternoon either.
Some recent futuristic additions to the park makes it even a more exciting place to visit.
7. The Irish seem to have learnt a lot about making good coffee. When I first came to Cork, it was almost impossible to find a place serving good quality coffee… 10 years on, things have changed – there are a number of places in Cork now, where coffee is as good as in Italy, France or Spain. You are spoilt for choice!
This small list above doesn’t even begin to cover the wealth of things to discover about the Corconians, their culture, places to visit and things to do in Cork, but hopefully it has intrigued you enough to visit this welcoming, vibrant city.