You could spend several days exploring the city of Cork before striking out into the countryside. Walking tours are popular, and it’s worth spending a few minutes with a map of the city so that you can get bearings and plan your route. This is an lively—even artsy—town with an even mix of museums, galleries and historical attractions to behold. Likewise, there’s plenty of craic (Irish for ‘fun and enjoyment’) to be had in the local pubs, many of which feature live music in the evenings.
Visit the Old English Market, which dates to the 15th century and was beautifully restored back in the 1980s. It’s spilling over with fresh produce, meats and cheeses, and you’ll even find a few Irish specialties such as blood sausage and hot buttered eggs. If you can’t get enough market atmosphere, follow up with a visit to Coal Quay Market on Cornmarket Street for second-hand goods.
Cork City Gaol is a key historical attraction, and many Irish freedom fighters were imprisoned here during the revolution. It has been converted to a museum celebrating the lives of those who fought and died here. St Ann’s Church is a prominent landmark, and you can see its steeple cresting over the city from virtually any vantage point around Cork. Also of interest is the French Gothic St Finbar’s Cathedral, which was originally conceived in the 6th century. The structure that stands today was built in the 1900s.
Be sure to stop by Crawford Art Gallery, one of the finest in Ireland. It occupies the customhouse (built in the 1700s) and displays work by several Irish masters including Jack B. Yeats.
Barrack Street springs to life at dusk. Dozens of pubs and restaurants are found here, many of which feature live bands playing traditional Irish tunes. Depending on when you visit, there may even be a music festival on, culminating in the world-famous jazz festival hosted in Cork each October.