Cork City is Ireland's third largest city offering extensive shops, bars and restaurants. It is also an important seaport with the shortest and fastest routes to the continent from Ireland. In 2002, the total annual contribution of all activities at the Port Of Cork to the Irish Economy amounted to €230 million and 2,604 full time equivalent jobs. Cork is blessed with a great natural deepwater harbour and an advantageous geographical location on the south coast. Thanks to a sustained period of traffic growth and investment in modern facilities extending over the past 35 years, Cork is today acknowledged as one of Europe’s most progressive and successful ports. In 2004, the Port of Cork is enjoying its best ever cruise season with 36 cruise ships scheduled to bring approximately 28,000 passengers to the area.
Cork History. The City of Cork began as an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee. The name Cork came from “Corcaigh” that means a marsh or swamp. Cork expanded up the banks of the River Lee, which nowadays runs through the city in two main channels, with plenty of bridges running across. St. Finbarr, the founder and patron saint of the city of Cork, founded a monastery in the 17th century where St. Finn Barre's Cathedral now stands. The monastery grew into an extensive and wealthy establishment. In 1172, Anglo-Normans invaded the city and both the Danish lords and local McCarthy chiefs had to surrender to Henry II. Cork, also known as "Rebel Cork" has always had a reputation for independence and stubborn resistance. Since 1920, a hundred years after the formal institution of the Harbour Commissioners, that organisation has been at the forefront of industrial development in Cork.
Exploring Cork. Walking is the best way to explore the city. St. Finn Barre's Cathedral is a brilliant example of French-gothic architecture. Other attractions include the Tudor-Gothic University College and the Honan Chapel, modelled on Cormac's Chapel at Cashel. Cork Vision Centre details Cork's evolution from past to present. Meanwhile, Shandon Church’s tower dominates the north side of the city and the sound of eight bells at North Gate Bridge has become famous. Cork depends on Shandon clock for the time and its fish weather vane for the weather forecast.
Walk up the Patrick' s Hill, Summer Hill or Wellington road, then St. Luke's Cross and Montenotte (the former residential area of the Merchants of Cork), from where you can look down over the port and harbour. The river widens away to the south passing Blackrock Castle, the Cork Heritage Park, and on towards the sea.
Visit City Hall, the English Market (a covered market for fish, fruit, meat and vegetable) and Coal Quay (the open-air market which is as much part of the folk-culture of Cork as is Shandon). The Crawford Gallery in Emmet Place houses an interesting sculptures collection, including some Rodin bronzes and a fine collection of paintings. At the Beamish & Crawford Brewery, Beamish Stout is brewed and exported all over the world. The statue of Father Theobald Matthew, the 19th century Apostle of Temperance at the end of Patrick Street, near Patrick's Bridge, is Cork's best-known landmark. The famous Blarney Stone in Bantry’s House and Gardens has been kissed by many visitors each year; tradition says that those who kiss the stone will receive the gift of eloquence. Charles Fort is a classic example of a 17th century star-shaped fort with five bastions, while Donerale Wildlife Park is a great landscaped estate with 160 hectares of parklands. Fota Wildlife Park is Ireland's only true Wildlife Park with rare and endangered species of wildlife and the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Ballincollig is where the manufacture of gunpowder took place from 1794 to 1903. The West Cork Model Railway Village the first of its kind in Ireland.
Cork Access. From Cork City access the N25 South Link road. Then take the N28 road to Ringaskiddy following the signs showing the ferry symbol.