Cork City is something of an outsider among Irish towns. Dublin is the capital, of course, and Galway is famous for its stunning Atlantic coast and romantic link with the Claddagh ring. But what about Cork? Ireland’s third most populous city has a lot going for it. It’s surrounded by tourist hotspots such as Bantry Bay and Blarney Castle, but the city itself is well worth a visit. After all, where else would you find a butter museum and a combination jail and radio museum? Here are four reasons to love the city of Cork.
- It’s the county seat of the People’s Republic of Cork. You’ve got to love a place with the attitude to not only earn that title but embrace it. You might not be able to make out what the locals are saying in their notorious accent, but it’s still pretty obvious that you are in the rebel county. There’s no dramatic change in the landscape as you enter County Cork and no border patrol, but it is a distinct place. Oh, and they did create their own passports as part of The Gathering in 2013. It’s that sort of place.
- Cork’s Oliver Plunkett Street has just won the Great Street Award for 2016. (Yes, it really is a town ahead of its time.) The Great Street Award is an honor bestowed by The Academy of Urbanism. The criteria include everything from governance to sustainability, and Oliver Plunkett Street beat out finalists in London and Liverpool. Who would bypass the best street in the world?
- Never mind the name, the English Market presents the culinary glory of the County Cork alongside cuisines from around the world in a covered environment. Visitors can find everything from locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables to exquisite confectionary without getting drenched. The Victorian architecture is as gorgeous as the food. The market’s history goes back to 1788, and it is a well-established destination for locals and tourists alike.
- Looking for some nightlife? Cork’s got it. It’s a university town, so expect youthful exuberance. It has also just become a purple flag town. This is the latest flag award, and it means the town center has met the criteria set by the Association of Town and City Management for providing a diverse range of evening entertainment in a clean and safe environment. (Of course, that is not a suggestion for tourists to abandon their cares and be careless with their personal safety or their valuables.)
No doubt the denizens of the Republic of Cork would object to such a short list, but really isn’t it enough? We could rave about the Cork Opera House’s world class facilities and performances. We could recommend that you try Murphy’s Irish Stout, the local brew with Cork roots going back to 1854, when James J. Murphy began brewing stout with the water that also supplied a holy well. Speaking of Murphys, actor Cillian Murphy is a Cork man. But really, no matter how long the list was, a Corkonian would pipe up to say what was left out.