Pubs, shops, waterways - Cork may be Ireland's "Second City", but after you visit, you'll discover it's first in every important respect.
1. Greet the city with a ringing of the Shandon bells
They say no visit to Cork is complete without a stop at the Church of St. Anne. Climb its steps for a gorgeous view of greater Cork and ring the Shandon bells for all to hear. Located in the Shandon district, the Church of St. Anne is situated atop a hill overlooking the River Lee. Its tower is a noted landmark and symbol of the city. The church bells were popularized in song in the 19th-century and remain a visitor attraction today for a chance to ring the bells and view the city from the top of the tower.
2. Unlock the past.
A former prison, Cork City Gaol is now a museum, located in Cork City, Ireland. When the prison opened in the 1820s it housed both male and female prisoners, whose crimes were committed within the city boundary. Anyone committing a crime outside that boundary was committed to the County Gaol, across the river from the City Gaol near University College Cork.
3. Discover the story of Ireland’s most important food export.
The Cork Butter Museum documents the history of butter production and sale in County Cork, and is housed in the former Cork Butter Market. The museum illustrates the role of the butter trade to Ireland over the course of history. In particular, the museum has displays covering the international Butter Exchange in the 19th-century, the domestic production of butter, and the success of Kerrygold in more recent times. The displays document elements of Irish commercial, social and domestic history. The exhibitions bring the visitor through various elements of butter production, from dairy cattle farming, to the documents and artifacts relating to the commercial butter trade.
4. Pucker up and get the gift of gab.
Technically Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone are a little north of Cork, but not by much! And what's a trip to Ireland without visiting the infamous icon? Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446. The castle originally dates from before 1200, when a timber house was believed to have been built on the site, although no evidence remains of this. Around 1210 this was replaced by a stone fortification. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence.
5. Shop like a royal.
Cork's English Market dates back to the times of King James I in 1610. But that's not where the royal connection ends. Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit in 2011 where she took a grand tour and met the mayor of Cork, as well. Step inside and you'll find new foods from afar and a selection of traditional Cork fare. Cork locals have come to know the English Market as a place to meet, eat and shop. What better way to bring tourists and natives together than over delicious cuisine?