Visit Ireland: Explore County Cork and Kiss the Blarney Stone

The County of Cork is the largest county in Ireland. It has a mild climate and the City of Cork is one of the sunniest places in the country.

Cork has an ancient history. It was founded in the 7th century and over the ages it was known as a place of learning. As the city grew, its population swelled with people leaving the poverty of the countryside. In those days, Cork was known called Queenstown before reverting to its old Irish name in 1922, the Cobh (cove) of Cork. The word ‘Cork’ refers to the County of Cork in general. The City of Cork is the capital of Cork and is Ireland’s second city, after the capital, Dublin.

It was the embarkation point for American and in the19th century huge numbers of Irish people emigrated to the United States. The first ever immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island was a 17-year-old girl from Cork named Annie Moore. There is a statue of her in New York Harbour.

Ireland: Things to See and Do in County Cork

The English Market in Cork City

Strange though it may seem, what has been described as one of the best markets in Europe is called the English Market. It is a covered market that has been around since 1764. It gets its name from the fact that originally traders could only be of English extraction, What’s in a name? This market is foodie paradise

It’s very easy to spend a whole day here. There is plenty of traditional Irish food on show, from a huge selection of delicious Irish cheese to Tripe with Onions and Drisheen, a type of black pudding made from a mixture of sheep and cow’s blood. Don’t knock it, it’s delicious. There’s something here for everyone and there is a variety of places to eat.

Visit Blarney Castle – Kissing the Blarney Stone

Even if people know very little about the County of Cork, they usually have heard of the Blarney Stone. It is a huge tourist attraction and can get a bit busy, however it is worth it . The castle in which the famous stone resides would be worth a visit even without the stone. Blarney Castle was built around 600 years ago and is one Ireland’s oldest castles and is surrounded by lush gardens.

To reach the Blarney Stone you will have to climb high up to the battlements and hang backwards to kiss the stone. It is quite safe as there is an employee there to hold you as you lean backwards. If your friends suddenly find you talking their heads off it’s because the Blarney Stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquence.

Bantry House and Garden

Bantry House is one of Ireland’s finest historic houses. It was built in around 1720 and is the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry, still lived in by their descendants. The family live in the house, in private apartments and the place still holds the aura of a family home. There certainly is no whiff of the museum about it. Audio guides are available and you can wander around at your own speed. There is no restriction on what you can and can’t photograph

The influence of the Gulf Stream of warm sea water has a pronounced effect on the climate and, although not huge, the gardens at Bantry House are stunning. Bantry is a region of lush vegetation, with palm trees and semi-tropical flowers in profusion and the garden at Bantry House illustrates this in its small but beautiful garden.

Inch Strand

Cork has a number of excellent beaches and its three miles of sandy beach make Inch Strand one of the best. It was chosen by David Lean as the beach location for Ryan’s Daughter. The film Playboy of the Western World was shot here. Its name is deceptive as it is actually the longest beach in Ireland and it is very popular with surfers.

Inch Strand is just a few miles outside the beautiful little village of Dingle and is an experience not to be missed. It’s a very romantic place. It’s not out of the question to find yourself walking along the beach with hardly another person in sight. The mist can come down very quickly, so take some rain wear and enjoy!

Garinish Island

Access to the Island is by small ferry boats and licensed 60-seater water buses and a short ride across the harbour brings the visitor to the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, known to gardeners around the world as a garden of outstanding beauty.

Due to the balmy climate brought by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, this small island is home to a garden of exquisite natural beauty. It is a happy mix of formal and informal gardens built between 1911 and 1924 by a group of people who dreamed of transforming a barren rock in to a world-class garden. Today it is a place of beauty with more than a whiff of Italian Renaissance architecture which includes a pool, a pavilion and a beautiful walled garden.

Getting to Cork

There are a number of cheap flights from London to Cork and other major cities. Aer Lingus has some good deals.

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