Hi everyone, this is Aidan, founder of Gifts of Ireland. Let’s take a trip to Cork, Ireland’s largest county which spreads over the southwest part of the country and is home to many Irish gems. From beautiful sights to historical landscapes, Cork has everything to offer for foodies, historians, visionaries and photographers alike. Even its locals say that Cork is THE place to visit for the full Irish experience. Let’s take a gander at some of the most popular places to visit in Cork.
1. Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre
Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre has had many lives during its’ time. Today, it is known as a popular tourist attraction but this Georgian/gothic castle-like building was home to many criminals both men and women for most of the 1800’s. What started as a co-ed prison in 1824 became an all-female jail in 1878, that is until men rebelling against the Anglo-Irish Treaty were incarcerated in this same jail in 1922-1923. Recognized as the ‘’finest in 3 kingdoms’’ jail, Cork City Gaol was also home to the county’s first radio station post jail era!
We all long for a picture-perfect Instagram moment. Well search no more! Head over near the Cobh harbour to snap a picture of one of Irelands’ most iconic landscapes: the colourful houses with the neo-gothic architectural wonder that is St. Colman’s Cathedral in the background. Add to your caption some fun facts to make it the talk of your Insta. Did you know that Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic before its tragedy?
3. Blarney Castle
A staple of the county, Blarney Castle, built nearly 600 years ago, is mostly known for housing the ‘’Stone of Eloquence’’. Previously, brave souls would kiss the stone by being lowered upside down by their ankles where resides the stone. Nowadays this venture requires less bravery thanks to metal railings we can hold onto. The Blarney stone is said to give those who kiss it, ‘’the gift of gab’’. If you tend to put your foot in your mouth more often than not, a visit to the Blarney Castle is in order.
4. The English Market
Looking for local delicacies and a cultural hub? Head over to The English Market, located in the heart of Cork city. This market has been trading since the year 1788 and is the place to find local artisan, family businesses, and plenty of delicious local treats. Stop by to people watch while enjoying a coffee and pastry in the Farmgate restaurant.
5. Blackrock Castle Observatory
The land is stunning, but have you ever dared to look up at nighttime? Take a trip to the Blackrock Castle Observatory’s planetarium and star gaze with your loved ones. This hidden gem offers views like you've never seen before. Nestled in a castle built in the year 1952, this could be a romantic date spot if you are on your honeymoon.
Cork County has so many sights and attractions to visit that you must stop by for a couple days to take in all it has to offer. Who knows, maybe having a taste of Cork will send you on a wild Ireland trip. Check out our blog for more inspiration on the best places to visit per county.