Cork City

  Tourist Office, Grand Parade      00 353 21 425 5100     more than a year ago
Ireland's second largest city lies in the South West province of Munster, 250kms from Dublin, and is built on islands formed by the River Lee. Its name comes from corcach - Irish for 'marshy place'.

Originally a 6th Century monks settlement, the area became a Viking trading port in the 10th Century and was granted city status in 1185 by King John of England. In 1690, many buildings were destroyed in the Williamite Seige of Cork.

Today Cork City is the bright and breezy economic and cultural capital of its eponymous county. It has good ferry, airport, rail and road links.

Corkonians revel in their independent 'Rebel City' reputation, with many regarding their home as Ireland's 'real capital' and good-humouredly referring to it as The People's Republic of Cork. Cork's river and natural harbour -  the world's second largest after Sydney - has long earned the city its major seaport status, and helped define its layout and tourist appeal.

First stop for all you visitors has to be the landmark Shandon Tower for a ring on the Shandon Bells. Don your ear protectors and pull the ropes for some fine peeling action.

Named after the city's Patron Saint, the Church of Ireland St Fin Barre's Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Cork. The magnificent 19th Century Gothic Revival building is made from local limestone and red marble, and its three spires rise up to form yet another distinct skyline landmark.

University College Cork (UCC) began life as Queens College, Cork in 1845 when it was founded (along with colleges in Belfast and Galway) by Queen Victoria. Its motto, Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn, reflects the site's close connections with the city's patron saint. Stroll through the splendid wooded Leeside grounds and admire several California Redwoods and the imposing Tudor Gothic facade - home to around 17,000 students. Famous alumni include actress Fiona Shaw, comedian Des Bishop, actor Cillian Murphy and TV presenter Graham Norton - the latter two leaving before graduating.

Shoppers should head to the revamped St. Patrick's Street (known locally as Panna) for many big and independent retail finds - including the stand-out English Market. And don't miss the quaint Huguenot Quarter (named after French Protestants who fled persecution in the 17th and 18th Centuries) with its myriad of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Culture lovers should check out the modernised Cork Opera House, Crawford Art Gallery or time their visit to coincide with one of the city's many events - most notably the Cork Jazz Festival Cork Film Festival and Cork Midsummer Festival.

The city is also home to the Elysian - Ireland's tallest building - and birthplace of Irish Revolutionary Michael Collins and international footballer Roy Keane. Perhaps the most significant product to come out of Cork, though, has to be Viagra.


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