26th June 2015
Cork and Cobh Attractions
City and country sights and experiences truly awaken this time of the year. From crowd-pulling festivals to glorious attractions and fun filled activities, each is poised to reignite your winter-fatigued senses. Dive into this blog and discover all that Cork and Cobh have to offer for all your entertainment needs.
Cork is a historic, welcoming, creative, ever-changing city with extraordinary surprises to be discovered every time you turn a corner such as Ireland's oldest post box located in Cork Kent Train Station. If you’re looking for some exciting adventures, it is the place to go as the possibilities of adventures are endless! We have put together a list to showcase all this wonderful city has to offer.
The English Market in the heart of Cork City is one of the oldest markets in Cork and a main shopping institution of Corkonians and visitors alike offering a tantalising range of foods. A mix of traditional and exciting new foods from afar, combined with long standing family-run stalls contribute to the unique appeal and atmosphere of this market.
Culinary delights include quality meats and fish, herbs, spices, fruit, vegetables, baked delicacies and speciality cheeses. With some of the more unique traditional delights being drisheen also referred to as a blood sausage, tripe, spiced beef and buttered eggs.
It’s also a place where you can sit and enjoy a coffee at your leisure and a scrumptious chocolate or two in the delightful Farmgate Café while watching people drift by and listening to the joyous hum of the crowd filling the air.
Whether it be stocking up on basic necessities or gathering souvenirs and craft pieces then look no further than Cork City. The city is filled with numerous meandering walkways flanked with small boutiques and department stores.
All of the well-known high street names are to be found in the areas centred around St. Patrick’s Street in Cork which is just a ten minute walk from Cork's Kent Station. The newly opened Opera Lane has the premium fashion stores H&M, Gap, Topshop, Topman, Next, River Island, New Look, Tommy Hilfiger, Therapie and Kuyichi.
However if you’re looking for a real bargain then you have to visit Penneys. It’s the ultimate location for any Irish shopper! It’s somewhere you will lose all sense of time checking out all it has to offer and leave with things you didn’t even know you needed!
Whether you’re seeking outdoor activities for children, holiday camps for groups or you simply want to take advantage of some sunny weekend weather, the Fota Wildlife Park is the place to be.
No matter what age you are you are sure to fall in love with the place. From the moment you enter the park you are met with an array of different species of animals, some free roaming and are surrounded by unique flora and fauna that truly makes you feel like you are exploring the depths of a tropical rainforest.
The park is ideal for family days out with the facilities being top notch! There is a kid’s playground located at the entrance with plenty of benches for picnic delights.
In addition there’s a marquee which hosts kids events and on occasion face painting. Dotted around the park are 4 different play areas, benches a plenty, ice cream huts, informative signs and of course an array of various animals.
Quite a nice touch I thought, was the dispenser beside the central pond which provides ‘duck food’ for 50c.
There are plenty of animals usually seen on the African planes to transport you into a world one usually only experiences on safari.
To truly get the safari like feeling you can get a tour of the park by taking the train which operates regularly. This gives you the opportunity to take in all of the sights while sitting back and relaxing.
Fota has its own railway station, which is only 13 minutes by train from Kent Station, Cork, or just 10 minutes by train from Cobh. There are services operating every 30 minutes from Cork to Cobh, check irishrail.ie for details of train schedules.
The stop is not one to be missed with the Station railing painted in whimsical zebra and giraffe coloured designs. The park itself is located just 2 minutes from the station and is no way difficult to find with it being located parallel to the Station platform.
Avail of 20% off admission when you show your rail ticket!
If on the other hand you are partial to immersing yourself into the rich history of different destinations then you certainly won’t be disappointed with a trip to Cobh. It’s fascinating and often turbulent history is packed full with uniquely interesting events. Whether it be one of the many heritage tours available or The Titanic Experience there’s an array of attractions to see and plenty to do.
The close knit town of Cobh is at heart of all the action. As the aroma of the fresh sea salt and the traditional Irish music fills the air, tourists line the streets in the hope of soaking up all that this beautiful community has to offer.
Cobh is authentic, not sold yet to mass tourism, so it still offers 100% local experiences. A little piece of advice for visitors, a trip to Kelly’s Bar should be on your list of places to visit, a truly fantastic quaint place!
In 1993 Cobh Railway Station was renovated to include the excellent Cobh Heritage Centre & Queenstown Story - and more recently the Cobh Maritime Development Company Exhibition Centre in 2015 located on the station platform so you don’t have to travel far to start exploring.
The projects ranged from posters to handmade story books and model cruise liners. Old Great Southern Railways, C.I.E. and Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail memorabilia is also on display; such as old pins and name badges and old uniform staff use to wear.
If you are an avid sports fan then perhaps a trip down to see the Cobh Ramblers, formerly Roy Keane’s football club in action is called for. However if you are more of an athletics fan, a walk or indeed run in the Cobh Community track should be on your list of things to do. This track was once where the great Olympic athlete Sonia O’Sullivan trained, something any Irish athlete would love to boast!
The Port of Cork is the second largest natural habour in the world after Port Jackson in Sydney Australia. The port is one of only two Irish ports which service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e. Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise.
In 2015 alone, over 53 Cruise Liners are expected to visit Cork Harbour and Cobh. The Cobh Cruise Liner Terminal is located right next to Cobh Railway Station and with it being Ireland's only dedicated cruise liner port it's an experience not to be missed.
For more information on when the Cruise Liners are due to visit Cork Harbour please visit The Port of Cork website to see the full schedule.
Cobh Heritage Centre presents the Queenstown Story, a dramatic exhibition of the origins, history and legacy of Cobh. From 1848- 1950 over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland with 2.5 million departing from Cobh. The centre retraces the steps of those who emigrated on coffin ships, early streamers and in the later year’s ocean liners.
Great models have been put together of what life and the conditions were like on board the dreaded coffin ships and also the convict ships. In addition, you have the chance to explore and learn about Cobh's connections with the Titanic which was the last port of call for the ill-fated ship on its maiden voyage to New York.
The Heritage Centre is full of pictures of the Railway Station which display its original features and allows you to see just how well the Victorian Railway Station has been lovely kept and restored.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Christie, a member of staff who has great knowledge of family history and would love nothing more than to help you track your family ancestry.
Avail of 10% off admission when you show your rail ticket!
If the outdoors is your thing then The Titanic Trail is for you! It is a guided walking tour of Cobh town allowing those to explore and learn about the town which was the last port of call of RMS Titanic.
The Titanic walking tour serves as a gateway to the riches of the Rebel County of Cork as it brings you through the streets of Cobh. Revealing locations and local gems directly connected to the Titanic and many other aspects of Cork harbours history and Irish heritage. The tour recounts numerous interesting facts about the Titanic from when it departed its ill-fated journey 100 years ago. Some of the local attractions included in the tour are the famous pier where the Titanic passengers departed to never return again, St. Colman’s Cathedral and former prison Spike Island.
Avail of a 10% discount when you show your rail ticket!
You cannot miss this cathedral no matter where in the town you are!
This church is the pride of place sitting on the top of a high hill overlooking looking the small town and harbour and all it has to offer.
The cathedral was built in the Neo-Gothic style and took a whopping 47 years to construct. Finally opened in 1911, it features a 100m high spire and a tower that houses 42 bells, making it the largest carillon in Ireland.
St Colman’s cathedral is the only Irish Catholic Victorian cathedral to preserve its entire interior.
Another thrilling attraction to enthral your mind and imagination is The Titanic Experience Cobh. This tour is located in the original White Star Line Ticket Office in the centre of Cobh, the departure point for the final 123 passengers who boarded the Titanic on 11th April 1912.
When you first enter the building you will be presented with replica tickets of what the passengers would have received back in 1912. Each ticket will have the name of a passenger who was aboard the ship and at the end of the tour you will discover whether or not you were one of the fortunate passengers who survived.
Each tour is approximately one hour long dividing into two sections. The first part includes the passenger’s anticipation of starting the new lives hundreds of miles away while on that faithful day in 1912. You will also get to explore how life would have been like on board for each passenger such as living conditions and examples of food menus. The second part of the tour includes the story of the 882 foot cruise liner hitting the iceberg and the sinking as a result.
Avail of a 10% discount when you show your rail ticket!
Why not experience Cobh by road train ideal for young and the not so young! You can take in the panoramic views as the train roams up and down the hilly Victorian streetscape. The knowledgeable guide will give passengers a rich insight into the fascinating history Cobh has to offer!
One of the stops on the Cobh Road Train is at a spot locally known as ‘The Black Railing’ this is the best spot for a breath-taking view of the outstanding harbour. The second stop is the must-see famously renowned and historic St. Colman’s Cathedral. The true essence of Cobh will be distilled to each passenger on the train as it meanders through the scenic Cobh town allowing you to soak up historic sites and beautiful sea vistas.
The steep climb from the town up to St. Colman’s Cathedral is avoided by travelling on the Cobh Road Train as it winds its way upwards through the narrow streets. While enjoying the journey, be sure not to miss the steepest hill in Ireland locally known as the ‘Deck of Cards’ for its colourful terraced houses. If that’s not enough to entice you the train is sure to get the kids excited as it resembles a certain big blue tank engine.
Avail of a 10% discount when you show your rail ticket!
Spike Island consists of 104 acres of isolated land in Cork Harbour. The multi-cultural island has hosted a monastery, a fortress and a prison, all of which have left their mark.
Visitors can explore the island by guided tour or enjoy the adventure of discovering it alone. Be sure to take in the walkway around the perimeter of the fort which offers unique views of both the harbour and fort. You can also marvel at the wonderful architecture and expanse of Fort Mitchel, visit the Convict Cells or relax in the Island Café.
The Jameson Experience is located in Midleton, Co. Cork. A tour of the distillery is a journey through the story and making of Irish whiskey which brings you from grain to glass. All tours begin with an audio-visual presentation followed by a journey through the old distillery. It is a fantastic chance to admire all the old kilns, mills, water wheels and much more!
At the end of the tour participants are offered a complementary glass of Jameson and a selected few are chosen to do a comparative whiskey tasting. These lucky individuals are then rewarded for their expertise with a whiskey tasting certificate so they can proudly display their achievement.
The sense of heritage is woven tremendously with the fine art of brewing throughout this experience and is certainly one not to be missed!
Blarney Castle is a must-see and with it comes the Blarney Stone, both easily among Cork’s most iconic landmarks. Many think the only thing Blarney Castle has to offer is its famous stone but it’s quite the contrary.
In the grounds of the castle, the Rock Close and its surroundings are filled with ancient trees and stones and legend has it, it was once a garden of druidic origin.
The place has an interesting aura of magic and mystique about it with Wishing Steps, Witch’s Kitchen and Druid’s Cave.
If you are more inclined to surround yourself in natures beauty then there are plenty of sights to feast your eyes on with lake walks, waterfalls, fern gardens, ice-house and lime kiln all telling a story of centuries past.
Don’t just stand outside taking selfies with the beautiful backdrop though, why not get fully involved by puckering up and kissing the renowned blarney stone.
The legendary stone has seen millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss it in the hopes of gaining the gift of eloquence or “gift of the gab” as locals call it. Over 300,000 people come to visit the stone each year. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.
So, if culturally rich adventures and breath-taking scenery are what you are after then look no further than taking a trip to this fantastic location!