at the Cork
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Things to Do in Cork
A Tourist's Guide to Cork, Citie of One Hundred Surprises
any learned academics from the Disc are intrigued by the Roundworld and its odd inhabitants. The Unseen University Open Doors Weekend will provide a great opportunity to observe a unique Roundworld city: Cork. We have spent countless seconds and minutes compiling a list of some of the most exciting and tourism-appropriate places in this wondrous city. “Hop on, hop off” bus tours as well as guided tours are available, but we do not recommend trusting any guides with “Wizzard” on their hats.
Things to Do in Cork City:
St. Anne's Church, home to the Shandon Bells
Have you always considered yourself a bit of a Quasimodo? Have you been yearning to let the bells ring out? Have you always been jealous of the monks in that Mars ad (you know the one)? If you want to see the whole city but you only have 30 minutes, get yourself to the top of Shandon Tower. The best thing about the tower is that you can make the entire North side of the city listen to you play classics such as “Don’t cry for me Argentina” and “Fernando” on the Bells - the song books provided have a range from classic church pieces to Queen, or you are welcome to just free style. Better do it now before someone finally cuts those b-st-rding bells down! If you find yourself with a little time, at the foot of the tower you’ll find:
Cork Butter Museum
As the New York Times says, “Visit this museum for a surprisingly engaging and multi-faceted view of history”. One of Cork's primary claims-to-fame comes from the fact that it was an international centre of excellence in butter production about 250 years ago. Not just butter, oh no, but all sorts of staples were produced in Cork and supplied to the West Indian Plantations, thanks to its only massive natural harbour. Such was the level of production that Shandon hill was known to have rivers of livestock blood flowing down it, a thing that my dynamic ancestors considered a terrible waste. As a result, blood sausage became a traditional Cork delicacy. Blood sausage and stomach lining, more romantically referred to as “tripe and drisheen” is still available from the Farmgate Cafe in the very lovely English Market in the city centre.
A covered market at the centre of Cork City, the English Market has existed in Cork since the late 16th century. It provides a variety of fresh produce, including meat, fish and bread and is a source for traditional Cork fare such as drisheen, spiced beef and buttered eggs. There are also clothing boutiques, an artisan chocolate shop and an olive stall, though currently no reliable vendors for rat-onna-stick. The English Market is considered so nice that it was one of the two places we decided to bring the Queen when she made her historic visit in 2011, and she became besties with one of the fishmongers, Frank O’Connell. If it's good enough for the Queen, it's good enough for you too!
Cork City Gaol
If University life is too upbeat for you, why not visit this atmospheric and imposing former prison? Opened in 1824, it was reportedly “the finest in 3 kingdoms”, until its closure in 1923 and subsequent reopening as a radio broadcasting station. A moving and instructive experience, if only to get a sense of how crap life was for prisoners a century ago.
The Peace Park
Technically the name for this oasis of green in the city centre is Bishop Lucey Park, but Corkonians have been calling it the Peace park for too many years to change their minds now.
Fitzgerald’s Park & the Shakey Bridge
Shockingly, TripAdvisor only ranks Daly's Bridge (a.k.a. the shakey bridge) as 92nd on the list of attractions in Cork. If you’re crossing the river on this, jump up and down - it shakes. It’s like magic. The park nearby is pretty beautiful as well.
Things to Do Near Cork:
Fota Wildlife Park
Outside the city is Fota Wildlife Park, home to nearly 30 mammal and 50 bird species. Many of the smaller animals roam free such as lemurs and monkeys mixing with giraffes, zebras and other large animals living in paddocks. The park is attached to Fota House, a beautiful regency mansion and heritage site. The grounds also contain Fota Gardens which contain many rare and beautiful flowers and shrubs, an arboretum and a rose garden.
Hiring a car?
Drive down through beautiful West Cork - Go through Glandore, Baltimore, Castletownsend, and consider staying on Cape Clear for a night. Get yourself out to Kerry on some pretty tiny winding roads and if the sea isn’t too choppy, get a boat out to the Skelligs, a stunning Unesco world heritage site - an ancient monastery built on a shard of rock on the edge of the Atlantic*. Kerry is worth spending at least 2 days in. Tiny winding roads and adorable villages like Dingle abound. There are plenty of seafaring types that will take you out to try and spot a friendly dolphin or a pod or two of whales.
* It's advisable to bring ziplock bags for your electronics if it's looking a bit blustery.
Notable Pubs, Inns, Hostelries and Caravanserais:
A Note on Stout: Many people come to Ireland and enjoy a pint of the black stuff, but in Cork Guinness is not the only stout. The Murphy’s brewery was founded in 1856 and has been providing a more subtle craft stout ever since. However, having one speciality stout wasn’t enough for the people of Cork, so now visitors can also sample a pint of Beamish stout. If all this stout is too much for you then why not try one of the many micro-breweries Cork has to offer. Some, like the Franciscan Well, have been titillating the taste buds for for over 17 years whilst other rising stars like the Rising Sons have only recently opened their doors and their casks. Although there is plenty more to Ireland and Cork than alcohol, if you enjoy a tipple and want to try something a little different, Cork will have something for you.
The Franciscan Well
There’s an incredible atmosphere in this pub, which was built on an old Franciscan Monastery and Well, dating back to the year 1219. Legend has it that the water from the well has miraculous and curative properties, and people would come from all over the country to drink it - so think the direct opposite of water from the Ankh. This pub brews its own beers, which are all natural and do not contain any additives or preservatives - a step up from Winkles Old Peculiar. If you go out into the large, spacious beer garden, you can even see the huge serving vessels! On top of that, you can watch a delicious pizza of your choice being cooked in front of you in a natural stone oven before enjoying it with your pint!
The Gateway Bar
If you desperately want to do something of cultural significance during your time in Cork, have a pint at the Gateway Bar. The Gateway Bar is the oldest pub in Cork, established in 1698 - the Dukes of Wellington and Marlborough were among its patrons, so you’re in good company! It’s possibly the oldest pub in Ireland, though that’s a title being claimed by a few different pubs around the country - we have a long and well established legacy of drinking. Don’t be put off by its age - as Gaspode himself said, an old dog can learn new tricks. Despite being a historical landmark, this bar does a wonderful range of cocktails and fancy drinks for the discerning connoisseur.
The Cornstore Restaurant
Speaking of cocktails, if doing a bit of "minge drinking" is on your timetable for your time in Cork, you’d do well to pop down to Cornmarket Street to try one of their award winning cocktails. They’re not cheap, but they are good. These talented mixologists do just about every trick in the book, including a couple that aren’t written down at all. Not the place to get pished, but definitely somewhere to pop in at the start of your evening.
If you were hoping to continue drinking cocktails for the evening, The Edison is a great place to do it. Less pricey than the Cornstore, it still boasts a wonderful list of drinks, not to mention a very interesting and eclectic atmosphere. Think along the lines of somewhere Lacrimosa De Magpyr and her friends would have gone if they outgrew all that silly plaid and wine drinking, and got into the real stuff, like handlebar moustaches and PBR.
The Mutton Lane Inn
The Mutton Lane Inn is another one of the oldest drinking establishments in Cork. When you walk in and see it’s curiously curved shape, low ceilings and the hundreds and hundreds of candles that keep it illuminated, you’ll believe it. Anyone looking to get in an Ankh-Morpork frame of mind would do well to visit this pub, located just off St. Patrick’s Street. Mutton Lane is one of the many alleyways that lead into the famed English Market, and used to be where live sheep were run into the market, so walking down to it feels just like ducking down an alleyway into the Shades- well, maybe not exactly like the Shades, hopefully.
The Rising Sons Brewery
This microbrewery and brew-pub is on Cornmarket street. Their building was once the famous Guy and Co. printers, who at one time printed all the cheque books in Ireland. The brewery has released a pils in memory of those who worked on the site, called the Bouncing Czech - a pun almost worthy of Sir Terry himself. This pub serves its own brews, as well as brews from other local breweries. Its tall ceilings and different coloured lighting ensures that it has a unique atmosphere of its own. The Rising Sons Brewery often plays host to Bands With Rocks In, so if you’re looking for somewhere to let your hair down, this is the place to be.
Arthur Mayne's Wine Bar
This is definitely worth popping into: a wine bar that has been created in an old pharmacy - complete with shelves and shelves of recent and not-so-recent cures for all that ails you. Lotions and potions galore in this apothecary. A fantastic setting to enjoy some quality drinks and food.
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