Cork, Ireland

Rail Guide to Cork

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Local languageEnglish and Irish
Country Ireland


Located on Ireland’s South West Coast, County Cork is the largest of all Irish counties and the city of Cork is the county town as well as the capital of the Munster Province. The River Lee flows through Cork city in two main channels, therefore creating a lovely focal point whereby some of the main streets are built over these water channels. Along the South Mall, there are large gateways at street level, under steps leading to a higher main door. These used to be boathouses in the times when merchants arrived at their warehouses by water.

With a population of about 190,000 in the main city area and 380,000 in the Greater Cork Area, Cork is one of the Republic of Ireland’s largest cities. A little known claim to fame is that Cork Harbour is the world’s second largest natural harbour after Sydney!

County Cork is said to be one of the most attractive places to visit in Ireland. There are countless small, quaint and often beautiful towns and villages to be discovered, as well as many historical and cultural attractions.

Things to do

Cork is famous for and has a long list of busy theatres which have made their home in the city. Cork Opera House, Triskel, Cork Arts Theatre, The Firkin Crane Centre, The Granary Theatre and The Everyman Palace are just a few from which visitors can choose. There’s always exciting drama, dance, live music, film or comedy for you to enjoy. There also are a variety of art venues such as the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, the Triskel Arts Centre, the Fenton Art Gallery and the Lavit Gallery. But aside from these wonderful cultural riches, Cork has many other lively attractions on offer:

The Sea Safari Tour is a thrilling experience, informative and fun at the same time. It combines high speed adventure with history, culture and heritage in Cork Harbour. Join us for a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the largest and finest natural harbours in the world. It can be found at Lapps Quay Cork in the city - make sure you pay them a visit!

Five miles northwest of Cork, in the village of Blarney, you’ll find Blarney Castle, a landmark that is famous for its stone, which is believed to have magical powers. Built almost 600 hundred years ago the castle is actually the third one to have been erected on this site. The ‘magical’ stone is set in the wall below the battlements. It is said to bestow eloquence on all those who kiss it. Make sure you take some extra time to enjoy the castle’s beautiful lake and the gardens of lawns, shrubs, flower beds and trees.

Situated in the historic Shandon area of Cork city, next to the Firkin Crane Theatre, is the unique Cork Butter Museum devoted to Cork's status has having once laid claim to the world’s largest butter market! That greatly influenced the city's prosperity in the late 18th century and onwards. In the museum, you can discover the early days of dairy trade in Ireland and how butter was produced and preserved in the 18th century. You also get the chance to hear about the success of the Kerrygold brand. The museum is located in the historic Shandon area of Cork city, next to the Firkin Crane Theatre.

St Finbarrs Cathedral is one of Cork’s famous landmarks. Designed by William Burgess and completed in 1878, the cathedral is built in the Gothic Revival style and has a distinctive triple-spired edifice. The beautiful interior has painted and gilded apse ceilings and the stained glass windows depict the story of Christ's life. Built on the site of the original monastic settlement of St Finbarr (founded in the 8th century) it can be seen all the way from the harbour. The communion vessels are still in use today, they include a silver gilt chalice from 1536.

Cork City Gaol plays an an important part of Ireland's architectural heritage. Dating back to 1824, it is a fine example of the work of Sir Thomas Deane. Its outside appearances with its interesting and unusual features makes it look more like a castle than a purpose-built prison. Inside the Cork City Gaol you get the chance to see lifelike wax figures, furnished cells, sound effects and fascinating exhibitions that will take you back in time to see what

life was like in 19th/early 20th Century Cork - inside as well as outside prison walls.

Cork City Gaol also host the Radio Museum Experience, which features a large collection of early radios, popular archive recordings and as well as a reconstruction of Cork’s first radio station.

Set in 18 acres of beautiful gardens, the Cork Public Museum as you can see it now was opened in 1945. In 1909, the building was first turned into a museum. The collections show the economic, social and municipal history of the Cork and its surrounding areas from the Mesolithic period onwards. Especially popular are the displays of 19th and 20th century civic regalia and the trades and crafts. The museum also shows fine collections of Cork silver, glass and Youghal needlepoint lace. Located in Fitzgerald Park, the museum can easily be reached on foot from Cork city centre.

Local transport

Getting around Cork is easy since a lot of the attractions can easiily be reached on foot and the public transport system is perfectly suited and adequate for the size of the city.

National bus operator Bus Éireann serves Cork city. Buses serve Cork’s suburbs, colleges, shopping centres and places of interest.

From the airport, there’s a bus every 30 minutes to the main hotels and B&B areas. From Kent Railway Station, there are frequent services to the city centre (bus number 5).

There are special walking tours covering all the major attractions of the city and there also are a number of open-top bus tours, which are perfect for those who only stay in Cork for a short time and want to make as much as possible of their stay.

Recommended places and events to visit in Cork

Visitor Attraction
Crawford Municipal Art Gallery Emmet Place, Cork
Event (During June)
Cork Midsummer Festival Various venues around Cork

Tickets & Schedules

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