Barryscourt Castle is such a hidden gem. It's a castle, run by Heritage Ireland. Guided tours are run if there are people ready to go. We were taken into the base of the tower house and given the spiel on the place. So interesting. We then climbed the next three floors, where we were given a talk on each floor and were able to explore. It has been restored to how it was in it's heyday when the Barry family owned it. All local artisans were involved. It is NOT overdone and just wonderful. The guide was extremely knowledgable and was happy to answer all questions. He really knew his stuff! The gardens are lovely too. There is a tea room that has tea, coffee and home made cakes. Lots of parking. Not busy. I don't think the coaches know it exists! And the best thing. It was free. Yep, FREE!!!!!
15 out of 10.
Shandon is just slightly off the beaten path and is easily accessed by climbing up any one of the steep lanes across the river from the Opera House. The Famous church is here and maybe it's a good idea to visit it first and then relax into the rest of the area. St Anne's is of course a Protestant place of worship and the 18th century interior/museum has been authentically maintained. It's fusty and dusty with austere wooden benches, church records and red velvet cassocks. If you decide to go upstairs you can enjoy wonderful views over the city and have a go at ringing the bells. It's a sort of Karaoke type scenario where you pull certain ropes and a barely recognisable version of a certain song assaults the eardrums of local residents. All good clean fun of course but be careful where you tread as the steps are precipitous and the floorboards extremely precarious in places. Outside you can admire the weather vane of a salmon known as the 'goldy fish' and not to be confused with the 'goldy angel' in St Finbar's Cathedral. Given the legend of tower clocks being known as the four-faced liar, you might have the urge to run round all four sides and check the times but they synchronise at least every hour.
Located in Carrigtwhoill only 10 miles from Cork city (there is a bus service from the bus station on Merchants Quay in Cork city), Barryscourt Castle is a restored castle with excellent guides who tell you the story of the castle and explain what you are looking at.
An added bonus is that admission is free!!! So the trip to Barryscourt is far more reasonable, less crowded & interesting than Blarney.
I put this on the off the beaten track as it is not a tourist spot yet picturesque from the cruise ship as we sailed towards the port of Cork. It had medieval type of buildings and it was an interesting sight we could view for free!
It is located at Haurbowline , Cork City, Cork, Ireland
The fine buildings of the Haulbowline Naval Base were constructed by the Royal Navy in 1806. The adjacent basin and dock - The Royal Alexandra Yard were opened in 1822. Unfortunately the buildings have become dominated by the now closed Irish Steel works which opened between the Royal Navy's withdrawal and the establishment of the Irish Naval Service.
The steel works closed at the start of the 21st Century and during autumn 2005 demolition was in progress.
25 minutes away by bus from Cork, is the village of Blarney - Famed for its Castle and The Blarney stone. Another attraction is The Blarney Woollen Mills - a place for buying Irish crafts such as woolens!, Waterford Crystal, pottery, celtic jewellery, and souvenirs of all things Irish.
The Castle and its grounds are worth visiting - although pick your time, as it is one of Irelands most popular tourist spots, so can be quite crowded. We visited on a wet Sunday in October, so it wasn't too bad. We didn't have to queue too long to kiss the Blarney Stone!
Blarney also has quite a few pubs and restaurants. We ate at The Muskerry Arms, which was popular with the locals. It has a sporting theme- the day that we visited there was an important rugby match, with local team Munster away to Sale. Blarney were also playing in the Hurling championship in Cork. These games were relayed on TV and radio, along with horse racing.
Please visit my Blarney page for more info and pics.
Blarney Castle is a very easy 20 minute bus ride from the main bus station. The bus stops in the very small village of Blarney and there is a sign showing you the direction of the short walk to the entrance. Kissing the Blarney stone gives you the gift of the gab – or the power of eloquent speaking. The castle and grounds itself is worth the visit alone. After your climb up the steep stone stairs to kiss the Balrney Stone, you can walk back into the village for a pint and meal in the pub. An easy and fun day out from Cork.
Take bus 224 almost every hour from outside Merchant's Quay (across the road from the main bus station).
Opening Hours (from the website):
Monday to Saturday:
May: 9.00am to 6.30pm
Jun-Jul-Aug: 9.00am to 7.00pm
Sept: 9.00am to 6.30pm
Oct-Apr: 9.00am to sundown
Summer: 9.00am to 5.30pm
Winter: 9.00am to sundown
Last Admissions: 30 minutes before closing
Sometimes if you are lucky you may find a street singer with a wonderful voice singing a song he wrote himself,I was lucky enough to find this singer singing in the pouring rain a song called "pouring rain" he sang beautifully ,I gave him all the change i had.
Here is a plaque commemerating a young man who died during the War of Independence.This plaque can be found at Blarney Street. Similar plaques and monuments can be seen around Cork City and in County Cork as well.Cork was to the forefront in the battle for independence from Britain. Other bigger monuments commemerating battles can be found at Dripsy County Cork,and Kilmicheal.to name but a few.
Check out St.Finbarrs Cemetery Cork City and view the Republican Plot there.2 of our Lord Mayor's are buried there,Tomas Mac Curtain,who was shot dead by the British and Terence MacSwiney who died on hunger strike in prison.(see other pic)2
This is a sport where hound dogs are raced across country for about 8 to 10 miles.They follow a scent which has been laid down by men who "run" the course with the scent.The hounds are members of various clubs throughout the city and county,like,Fair Hill or Northern Hunt.Drags are held from March to the end of August. To get an idea of a Draghunt click on the link included.
A sport that is kind of unique to Cork is Road Bowling,well almost unique as it is played in county Armagh as well. It is played on country minor roads around Cork City and in the county as well. A game is called a "score" and it is played with a 28 ounce iron bowel.A score is played over a certain distance of the road and the person to finish in less throws is the winner. A lot of money can be bet on a score and it is all done in cash and no receipts are given or asked for! :)
Blackrock is a suburb on the southside of Cork, much of it running parallel with the river Lee and Marina walk, described in the previous tip. Originally a village outside of the city, the village atmosphere still persists around the Pier Head Inn and the large village green area by the river's edge. If you get off the bus here you can walk down to the river bank and sit a while before continuing along Castle Road. Castle Road is one of the most prestigious addresses in Cork abundantly lined with substantial period houses in large and leafy gardens. Towads the end of this road stands the Castle itself, Blackrock Castle, guardian of the entrance to the river and now astronomy centre par-excellence. This is a very pretty little castle, with its small towers and battlements visible for miles around and making quite a spectacular vista as you approach Cork on the other side of the river. Way back in history the castle had a defensive role to play but within living memory it has mainly had a purely decorative role as it experimented with various functions. At one stage it was a top-class restaurant which introduced the citizens of Cork to such unheard of delicacies as Chateaubriand and Baked Alaska and now it has just opened as an astronomy centre.
Apart from the castle and the village of Blackrock, the whole suburb is delightful with some really interesting houses, roads and lanes, among them the home of famous Cork mathematician, George Boole. To get to Blackrock, catch the no 2 bus from the city centre.
The Marina is something of an institution in Cork and a favourite walk for people all over the city.
Running all the way from the docks right down to the end of Blackrock, it follows the banks of the Lee. Across the river is Tivoli and the main approach from the South East but on this side of the river it's all grassy riverbank, overhanging trees and in Spring, carpets of daffodills. People jog here, run, cycle, rollerblade and exercise their dogs and babies. Perfect for an evening stroll, you will inevitably be treated to the sight of boats passing up or downstream and to the local rowing teams shouting out instructions as they train nearby. On a sunny day there's a real 'sitting on the dock of the bay ' feel to the place and it's ideal to get away from the noise and traffic of the city centre. The local GAA ( Gaelic Athletic Association ) stadium, Pairc Ui Chaoimh is along the Marina and just next to it is a very pretty park built around a lake.If you want to get to the Marina from town, the easiest way would be to get a taxi or alternatively, take the no 2 bus to Blackrock village and walk back from there.
The area around Shandon Church is one of the oldest and most atmospheric parts of Cork. Though within 10 minutes walk of Patrick Street it's a different world altogehter. This is very much 'old Cork'and the people who live here are mostly people whose families have lived here for generations. High up on the hill, with narrow streets and lanes running back down to the river, it's like a little kingdom unto itself. In the very centre is the rotunda-like performing arts centre, the Firkin Crane, facing onto a large piazza-like space. Diagonally across is the huge neo-classical facade of the Craft Centre and next door to that, the Butter Museum. The Church and famous Bells of Shandon look down on this little scene and the whole effect is about as picturesque and continental looking as you are going to get in Cork. There is one restaurant here but no cafes or shops. There are several local pubs in the surrounding streets though and calling into any one of them for a drink should add to your enjoyment of the visit. The church is certainly worth a visit but unless you have a specific interest in Butter, then I'd skip the museum. The best way to enjoy Shandon is to just wander in and out the lanes and alleys and make your own discoveries.
For more Shandon pictures, see my travelogue on the Inro page.
Garryvoe Beach is situated south east of Cork near the town of Youghal. This area is sometimes called the Irish Riviera, but I think that fortunately there are fewer hotels and it's less touristy than the other Rivieras I have seen pictures of. On the other hand, the weather was not too good when we went there so it might look different on a sunny summer day. There were a few people walking on the beach though and the caravan park nearby was quite full. The place seems to be a good one for birdwatching - there was a list with illustrations of all kinds of seagulls and other birds that can be encountered there. In the distance you can see the Ballycotton Lighthouse.
It was the place we went to soon after my arrival from Warsaw and I really enjoyed the open spaces and the sea after the noise, crowds and congestion of my hometown.
The Corkonians have a lot of space for recreation: parks, gardens, the embankment of the River Lee... The city is not just green - it shimmers with all the colours of the flowering shrubs, creepers getting into every nook and cranny often high up on the walls, beautiful flower compositions on the lawns and the roundabouts. I was astonished to see palm trees - one would think they don't grow so far north but here they were and many of them too.
Watching the passing ships and boats is one of my favourite pastimes and there were endless opportunities to do that.
One of the places where you can do this to your heart's content is the colourful 2000 Garden at the Port of Cork, developed to welcome the turn of the Millennium. Situated right on the embankment at the west end of Tivoli, it commands wonderful views of the river up towards the city centre and down to Blackrock Castle and the Marina, and is a great place for a walk along its banks. Unfortunately, we stopped there only for a few minutes to take some pictures while the sun was shining. We had to stay near the car parked illegally in front of the gate so couldn't explore the garden. Try to get here on a sunny day - you are bound to enjoy it.
While the Hayfield Manor was a tad bit more expensive than we like to spend, one gets what one pays...more
(formerly Vienna Woods Hotel), Glanmire, County Cork, Ireland
Good for: Couples
Good modern Irish four star hotel that opened for busines in 2005. I stayed here a good few weeks...more