Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Visit to Cork City, Ireland

O'Keefe Grocery & Artisan Food Shop
I won't pretend that I've seen a lot of Ireland. I've basically been to Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork, but of the places I've visited, Cork is my favorite Irish city. Sure, Dublin has its advantages and a lot to offer, but Cork is a city that feels like a small town. It's the best of both worlds. I might also be biased since my husband was born and raised there, but c'est la vie. 

O'Keefe's Grocery & Artisan Food Shop
If you're in Cork for a while and planning to do any cooking or food shopping, O'Keefe's Grocery & Artisan Food Store at St. Luke's Cross is a must. You'll find lots of quirky and local foodstuffs there and the staff are very friendly. Even if you're not cooking anything, you can drop by for some cheese from Gubbeen Farm to take home or a coffee.


Sheehan Brothers Traditional Cork Butchers
Also at St. Luke's Cross is Sheehan Brothers Traditional Cork Butchers. While taking a photo of the pig out front, a passerby stopped to tell me that piggy's name is Andrew (random) and the butcher was friendly enough to jump outside for a pose.

Henchy's Pub
You can't visit Cork without stopping into my favorite pub, Henchy's. My husband introduced me to this pub years ago as he likes to meet his old friends there when he's in town, but it quickly became my favorite. Most of the times I've been there, they've had live music or musical bingo, so there's never a dull moment and the layout inside is rather interesting.

Trinity Presbyterian Church
Trinity Presbyterian Church was built 1861 and looks beautiful on a sunny day!


The gate house at Trinity Presbyterian Church
Cork's own version of Boris Bikes

A view of the city and the River Lee

Market Lane Restaurant
If you're dining out while in Cork, there are a few great restaurants worth visiting. Market Lane is wonderful for delicious, fresh food and they use ingredients from the famed English Market for their dishes where possible. Similarly, if you love a good steak and a trendy vibe, Cornstore on Cornmarket Street, where I recommend trying the Buffalo Chicken Wings, is lovely and you can enjoy drinks afterwards next door at Bodega. I love Cafe Mexicana for yummy Mexican food and a relaxed, fun, festive vibe. For a more family friendly lunch or dinner, you can't beat Luigi Malone's which offers a diverse menu with dishes at all price points including smaller ones for the kids and I'd recommend trying the Chicken Goujons or the Lasagna.

Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe
When the ole sweet tooth rears its ugly head, a visit to Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe is a must for all things confectionary! Selling both old-fashioned sweets and more modern ones too, you can also rely on this shop for any American treats you might be craving.

Street singer in Cork City
I always associate Cork with music… I guess that makes sense given that there are a number of music festivals featuring jazz, choirs and more every year. The city does have a few local venues, the Everyman Theatre and the Cork Opera House to name a few, but there's no shortage of music that requires no ticket at all. Whether it's the talented people singing on the street or a trad session in a pub, there's always live music to be found in Cork City!

The English Market
Of course, no visit to Cork would be complete without a visit to the English Market, a large, covered market where you can find all kinds of foodstuffs, meat, drinks and confections. From seafood and steak to asian ingredients for home cooking, it's all there. Even the Queen visited on her trip to Ireland.

Market Avenue, home of the English Market
Le Cháteau
On a sunny day, you can't beat sitting out side for a bit of people watching at Le Cháteau in the heart of Cork City.
Outside seating at Le Cháteau
If you do make it to Le Cháteau for a drink, I hear the Irish Coffee there is amazing, though I've never had one myself.

Of course there are lots of other things to see and do in Cork. The famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle & Gardens is only a few miles away, Fota Wildlife Park is great for families and for a bit of local history, you can visit the Cork City Gaol, known locally as The Women's Prison or head down to Cobh (pronounced COVE) to visit the Titanic Experience. Additionally there's plenty of shopping with most typical high street brands having shops there, but for a more local experience, visit Brown Thomas and Newbridge Silver.

Whatever you choose to see, Cork is a lively city with lots to offer and a great place to spend a few days. To visit Cork, it's easily accessible by flights into the Cork Airport or by Irish Rail trains via the Cork Train Station.
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