County Cork

Cork (from the Irish, Chorcaí), the largest and fourth most populous county in Ireland, is many things at once. Peaking then smoothing-out, heating-up then gently simmering, it is a sprawling, interesting place.

Three epic rivers contribute to the layout of the land. River Blackwater, flowing 105 miles from Kerry to Waterford and finally into the Celtic Sea, is the longest of them. River Lee, which is the second longest at a length of 55 miles, flows directly through the city of Cork. A stack of mountain ranges frame the southwest of the county, bordering Kerry.

Admired for its rather untouched natural spectacle, various species of dolphins and whales, in addition to an array of rare birds, indulge tourists along the southwest coast. Mizen Head, despite its fame, is not the most southerly point in Ireland, although it does pair neatly with Malin Head in the popular phrase. That honour goes to Brow Head a couple of miles to the east, which reaches a whole 30 feet further into the Atlantic.

Cork’s most famous attraction by far is the Blarney Stone, lodged in the battlements of Blarney Castle. The word itself has come to infer a sort of empty flattery, and legend has it that by kissing the stone a person will be granted the “gift of the gab” (the ability to flatter and persuade).

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Unmissable Attractions County Cork

1. Blarney Castle, featuring the Blarney Stone (Opening Times vary from month to month, but generally the castle is open Monday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. – sundown) Prices: Adults €12.00 / Senior citizens and students €10.00 / Children (8-14 years) €5.00 / Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) €30.00

2. Barryscourt Castle (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer)

3. The Donkey Sanctuary (Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 9.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.)

4. The Famine Burial Pits of Abbeystrewry Cemetery, a mass gravesite for victims of the Irish famine, is located just outside Skibbereen

5. Cobh Heritage Centre

6. Jameson Distillery (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from from 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.) Prices: Adults €13.00 / Students €10.60 / Under 18’s €7.70 / Family (2 Adults and 2 Children) €29.00

7. Charles Fort (Opening Times vary from month to month, but generally the fort is open Monday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.) Prices: Adults €4.00 / Senior citizens and groups €3.00 / Children and students €2.00 / Family €10.00

8. Fota Wildlife Park (Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. Sunday from 10.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.) Prices: Adults €14.00 / Children (Under 16), senior citizens, students and disabled €9.00 (children under 3 go free) / Family (2 adults and 2 children) €44.00