Sunday, 11 March 2012



Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. County Cork has earned the nickname of "the Rebel County", while Corkonians often refer to the city as the "real capital of Ireland", and themselves as the "Rebels". The city is built on the River Lee which divides into two channels at the western end of the city. The city centre is located on the island created by the channels. At the eastern end of the city centre they converge; and the Lee flows around Lough Mahon to Cork Harbour, one of the world's largest natural harbours. The city is a major Irish seaport; there are quays and docks along the banks of the Lee on the city's east side.

The Red Abbey Tower

Cork was originally a monastic settlement founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century. Cork achieved an urban character at some point between 915 and 922 when Viking settlers founded a trading port. It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was an important trading centre in the global Scandinavian trade network. The city's charter was granted by King John in 1185. The city was once fully walled, and some wall sections and gates remain today. For much of the Middle Ages, Cork city was an outpost of Old English culture in the midst of a predominantly hostile Gaelic countryside and cut off from the English government in the Pale around Dublin. Neighbouring Gaelic and Hiberno-Norman lords extorted "Black Rent" from the citizens in order to keep them from attacking the city.

As the hilly streets go up and down, so do the voices of the citizens. They have a characteristic sing-song cadence, beloved of national comedians, and Corkonians are regarded as the most talkative of all the Irish. St. Finbarr is the founder and patron saint. He founded a monastery in the seventh century where St. Finn Barre's Cathedral now stands, and it grew into an extensive and wealthy establishment. It attracted the attention of the Viking sea-pirates who raided and burned the infant city, but returned in later years to settle and trade. The Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172 resulted in both the Danish lords and local McCarthy chiefs having to submit to Henry II, but Cork has always had a reputation for independence and stubborn resistance: it came to be known as "Rebel Cork".

The best way to see the city of Cork and sample the flavour of its life, is to walk. There is a signpost Walking Tour, so get the accompanying booklet and set off to explore the hilly streets and meet the people.

St. Patrick's Street, the main shopping street of the city which was remodelled in the mid 2000s, is known for the architecture of the buildings along its pedestrian-friendly route and is the main  thoroughfare. The reason for its curved shape is that it originally was a channel of the River Lee that was built over on arches. The General Post Office, with its limestone façade, is one of the most prominent buildings on the street and the focal point of much pedestrian activity.

English Market
Cork's English Market is a delight, the backbone of Cork's history since the 1700's, one of the oldest markets of its kind, supplying the people of Cork and its Visitors, a covered market area in Cork City. The English Market in Cork has a range of wonderful stalls for you to browse such as fresh meat, fish, poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables, many local cheese's, smoked salmon, olives, spices, confectionary and Cork's traditional Tripe and Drisheen stall, French soaps, Lavender, Flowers, Wool, Wine, Champagne and many more delights. Having enjoyed browsing the many stalls in the English Market stop and enjoy a coffee and some people watching in one of the wonderful Café's, Coffee Docks in the English Market and enjoy some delectable chocolates at the same time! The English Market was visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on a great Summer's day in May of 2011, where she enjoyed a walk through the stalls of this old Irish market. The English Market can be accessed from either Princes Street, Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street or the Grand Parade.

                                                        Cork’s Top 5:
The Clock Tower of Shandon
  1. The Church of St Anne Shandon.  Cork's most famous building is the church tower of Shandon, which dominates the North side of the city. It is widely regarded as the symbol of the city. The North and East sides are faced in red sandstone, and the West and South sides are clad in the predominant stone of the region, white limestone. At the top sits a weather vane in the shape of an eleven-foot salmon.  The church is famous for its 8 bells due to the famous song "The Bells of Shandon" by Francis Sylvester Mahony. Each weigh 6 tons and were created by Rudhall of Gloucester. To reduce vibration, they were placed in a fixed position. They first rang on December 7 1752. They have been recast twice: both in 1865 and 1906. Today, visitors can climb to the first floor and ring the bells themselves. The famous clock, known to Corkonians the world over as "The Four Faced Liar" on account of the time being slightly different on each face during the hour. The reason for this is, the numbers on the faces are made of wood and gilded, some of the wood is thicker than others and so some hands stick when they reach these numbers, but on the hour they all come together.
  2. Saint Finbarre's Cathedral. Begun in 1863, the cathedral was the first major work of the Victorian architect William Burges. Previously the cathedral of the Diocese of Cork, it is now one of three cathedrals in the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
    The competion for the building of St Fin Barre's was held in 1862. In February 1863, Burges was declared the winner. His diary records his delight; "Got Cork!", whilst the cathedral accounts record the payment of the winning prize sum of £100. Building work took seven years before Divine Service was held in the catherdral in 1870. Building, carving and decoration continued into the twentieth century, long after Burges's death in 1881. As was usual, Burges oversaw all aspects of the design, including the architecture of the building, the extensive statuary, the stained glass and the internal decoration. The result is "undoubtedly Burges's greatest work in ecclesiastical architecture"  with an interior that is "overwhelming and intoxicating. To enter St. Fin Barre's Cathedral is an experience unparalled in Ireland and rarely matched anywhere."
  3. Blackrock Castle. located 3 miles east of Cork City, was built around 1582 as a safe haven against pirates and other invaders and was then reinforced by the Lord Deputy, in 1604. The castle burnt down in 1722 and was replaced by another which was also destroyed by fire in 1827. James and G.R. Pain designed Blackrock Castle, which was built in the1828's. The present castle consists of a large circular tower with crenellated parapets resting on large corbels. It incorporates portions of the walls of the second castle which were strong enough to withstand the impact of cannon balls. On its eastern side it is joined to a cylindrical tower rising several feet above the main structure. At the side of this tower is a watergate leading to a slipway. Blackrock Castle was used by Cork Corporation for civic functions during the nineteenth century. The castle was in private hands for many years but is now restored and used as an observatory, operated by staff from the Cork Institute of Technology, it is open to the public and has a restaurant onsite.
  4. The Red Abbey  was a 14th century Augustinian abbey which took its name from the reddish sandstone used in construction. Today all that remains of the structure is the central bell tower of the abbey church, which is one of the last remaining visible structures dating to the medieval walled town of Cork. In late 13th or early 14th century, an Augustinian monastery was built in Cork, and was occupied by the friars until at least the rebellion of 1641, and possibly as late as 1700. The abbey tower was used by John Churchill (later the Duke of Marlborough) as a vantage point and battery during the Siege of Cork in 1690.The siege sought to suppress an uprising in the city and its association with the expelled Catholic King of England, James II. In the eighteenth century, the Augustinian friars established a new friary in Fishamble Lane, and the Red Abbey was turned over to use as a sugar refinery. However, a fire in the refinery destroyed much of the abbey's structure in 1799. All that remains today of the structure is the bell tower of the abbey's church. The tower is designated as a national monument and maintained by Cork City Council.
  5. St Finbarre's Cathedral
    Elizabeth Fort is a 17th century star fort off Barrack Street. Originally built as a defensive fortification outside the city walls, the city eventually grew around the fort, and it took on various other roles - including use as a military barracks, prison, and police station. Elizabeth Fort was first built in 1601 on a hill to the south and outside the medieval walls of Cork. This position was chosen because, while the city had relied on Shandon Castle and the city walls for defence since Anglo-Norman times, the development of artillery and the possibility of its deployment on the hills surrounding the city, diminished the potential effectiveness of these defences. The fort was built by Sir George Carew and named after Queen Elizabeth I.

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