Though not as vibrant as the city centre, the area of Shandon has its quiet charm. Situated on a hill overlooking the River Lee, it sometimes opens onto the city centre as you walk along its narrow sloping streets lined with colourful little houses. There is no better place if you want to get the feel of old Cork. Shandon, whose name derives from the Irish words denoting 'old fort', is one of the oldest areas of the city and I had a feeling that the local people spoke of it and its bells with some warmth. At the top of the hill stands St Anne's Church, its tower rising high above the city. Next to it is the building of the Cork Butter Exchange, whose turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries classical building now houses the Cork Butter Museum and craft centre. Another building close by is the rotunda of the Firkin Crane, the former butter market, now a theatre. 'Firkin' was actually a barrel in which farmers would have brought their butter to the Butter Exchange. You can see what it looked like in the museum. Both places reveal Cork's historic importance as a port trading in dairy products.
As you leave the area, give it one last look from across the river to see its lovely roofline and the vistas of its narrow streets going down to the river.
Pay a small admission fee and climb the many steps firstly to the 1st floor to ring the famous Shandon bells which are heard over the city.Continue upwards to a breath taking view of the beautiful City of Cork.
The Bells of Shandon.
With deep affection and recollection
I often think of those Shandon Bells,
Whose sound so wild would in days of childhood,
Fling round my cradle their magic spell.
On this I ponder when'eer I wonder
And thus grow fonder sweet Cork of thee,
With thy bells of Shandon that sound so grand on
The pleasent waters of the river Lee. (1st verse) By father Prout.
If you visit you can play its bells and the sound is heard all over the city,easy music sheets are provided
I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in the houses around the Shandon Tower. Visitors can climb the tower for magniificent views of the town, and can also try their hand at bell-ringing. For around 5 euros (September 2005 price) you will be given a music sheet and you can pull on the ropes and try and get a tune out of them. Some visitors are better than others, and I think that if I lived in Shandon I might invest in ear plugs! The clock tower is known locally as 'the four-faced liar', due to each clock face telling a different time.
Just below the Shandon Tower is the old butter market, which is now used as a craft village.