If you’re planning on going to Ireland and you really want to explore the nation, then Ireland’s largest county of Cork is a must.
County Cork is home to some amazing landscapes, countless historical sites and the Republic of Ireland’s second largest and extremely vibrant city; Cork city.
Some places to check out in the County Cork include:
● Cork City
● Fota Wildlife Park
● The Jameson Distillery in Midleton
Music, theater, cinema, and dance are very important in the city. The culture in Cork city is diverse with their being thousands of individuals residing in the settlement from around the world. There are numerous different places to go to, but if architecture is your thing then a trip to the city’s old cathedral is a must. The cathedral is called Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral and is notable due to its Gothic design.
The small village of Blarney has only recently fallen into the boundaries of Cork city. It has always however being a short drive from the city’s center. Once you arrive there you will find yourself there admiring its charm. The town of Blarney contains Blarney Castle. This is a popular castle where you can easily enjoy an afternoon wandering the building and grounds. The building is 600 years old and was built by the King of Munster, Cormac McCarthy.
You may of heard of the Blarney Stone before. This castle is the home of the famous rock. The Blarney Stone is flocked to by tourists every year who come there to kiss it. As strange as it may sound this tradition is meant to give people who peck their lips on the stone special powers at talking. In Ireland this is known as the ‘Gift of the Gab’.
The village also contains one of the best stores you can find in Ireland that provides high quality gifts and souvenirs. This shop is called the Blarney Woolen Mills. As the name suggests their is a focus on clothing made from wool here. The mills were created two hundred years ago, where they made and spun wool. In recent decades the mills now act as this wonderful gift store.
Other items on sale at the mills include Claddagh rings, jewelry, rings and mugs to name a few.
Known as the last stop of the Titanic, Cobh is a picturesque town just south of Cork city. Formerly known as Queenstown during British rule, it is located in Cork Harbor, which many claim is the second largest natural harbor in the world.
Due to its history there is of course a strong connection with the Titanic. The Titanic Memorial Garden is present in the town. The garden has some amazing views, including the location of where the last passengers boarded the Titanic. 123 people in total boarded the doomed ship from Cobh.
There are boat hires that you can avail of in the town. Additionally, you can take part in boat tours. Cruise liners are known to frequent the area, so if your interested in catching a luxurious cruise ship after you’ve finished checking out the rest of County Cork, then getting on at Cobh could be a good call.
Another place to view in Cobh, especially if your ancestors hail from Ireland, is the Cork Heritage Center. This center focuses on the story of emigration from Ireland over the centuries. You may be able to even trace some of your family back to Ireland by availing of services provided at the center. Cobh was a popular location for Irish people in the past who wished to hop on a boat and emigrate to another country.
A few more reasons to go to the center is that it gives you detailed information of ill fated ships like the Titanic and the Lusitania. It is also located in a beautiful restored Victorian railway station.
Fota Wildlife Park
Fota Wildlife Park, located 10 km east of the city of Cork, is ideal for a family day out. The park extends over 40 hectares, and contains dozens of mammal and bird species. Unlike many zoos and wildlife parks that you may come across, Fota Wildlife Park is run completely not for profit.
The rationale behind the park is persuade people to take conservation and protection of the natural world more seriously. The wildlife park is situated on Fota island. Much of the island itself was in the hands of the Smith-Barry family for centuries. This family was extremely wealthy and had its origins in the Norman invasion of Ireland over 800 years ago. The family’s property on the island was sold to University College Cork in 1975. From this the first steps towards the Fota Wildlife Park were taken.
Now at the park you can view roaming Giraffes, along with zeebras and kangaroos. They are able to wander around a large section of the wildlife park freely.
The park now attracts over 450,000 people a year, with visitors from all over Ireland and further a field descending on the park annually.
The Jameson Distillery in Midleton
Dublin was once home to the famous Irish whiskey which is Jameson. That changed however in the mid 1970’s when it moved to Midleton in County Cork. Like the other locations detailed in this article, Midleton is only a stone throws away from Cork city, being a thirty minute drive away.
The operation in Midleton is the only producer of Jameson in the world. By taking part in the Jameson Experience you will see how they pull this off, along with an explanation on the history of the whiskey. It is a 75 minute tour available 7 days a week. Children are even allowed to attend, along as they are accompanied by adults.
For the adults in the tour they will learn how to differentiate Jameson from other whiskey’s and will also receive a free glass of Jameson.
If you are a college student or over 65 then you are in luck. You will be offered a discounted rate for the tour.
An extended behind the scenes tour is also available for those who want to know more about the operations. Here you will be guided around the Maturation Cottage and the Micro-distillery to name a few places. Don’t worry, there’s free whiskey tasting on this tour also.
County Cork is a great place to visit. Being Ireland’s largest county it is no wonder that there is so much to see and do. Remember, the above is only a tiny fraction of activities and places to check out in the county. If you do decide to see even a couple of suggestions we outlined you will be far from disappointed.