Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 27th of March 2014 at 09:22:26
Located in Ireland’s south-west, lies the resplendent county of Cork. After a quick consultation with some of my colleagues we came up with some of our favorite Cork places to visit! Hope they inspire your next Irish vacation!
Blarney Castle – with over 6 centuries of history reverberating through her walls, Blarney Castle has witnessed much change since her construction in 1446. This was the 3rd and final castle to be built on the site with earlier buildings making way for the impressive structure you see today. Arguably the most famous part of the site is the Stone of Eloquence or the Blarney Stone which sees thousands of tourists each year limbering up to kiss the stone all in the hope of getting the “gift of the gab”! However, for anyone with a single drop of Irish in them, we already have this in spades along with baloney and waffle, so Lord knows why we would want anymore! This is a must see on any visit to Ireland and an opportunity to test both your dexterity and kissing skills!
Fota Wildlife Park – Who would have thought that in east Cork you would find zebras, giraffes, antelope, kangaroos, lemurs and ostriches roaming around the countryside?! Well Fota Wildlife Park have these critters and many more on their grounds. Indeed, Fota Wildlife are the world’s leading breeders of the endangered cheetah species! All animals on site have adapted to the challenges of the Irish climate although the same can’t be said for some of international visitors! If you are looking for something a little different (and what is more different than a zebra passing you by in Ireland) then Fota is the place for you!
Bantry House – Home of the White family (formally the Earls of Bantry) since 1739, the house itself dates from 1700. It was opened to the public in 1946 and was the first private house in Ireland to do so. Set amidst beautiful grounds and overlooking Bantry Bay this house has arguably one of the most impressive and breath-taking vistas in Ireland. The house has a wide collection of furnishings and art from all over Europe due to the travels of the 2nd Earl of Bantry and this continental theme carries through into the gardens which incorporate an Italian style garden influenced by the Florentine Boboli Gardens. The converted stables and carriage house contain an exhibition on the French Armada and explains the revolutionary Wolfe Tone’s involvement with the French in a futile attempt to liberate Ireland and the 1st Earl of Bantry who advocated against Tone’s tactics and who sought to prevent any French invasion. The story of these two ambitious and driven men converge in one exciting exposition!
Cork City Gaol – opened its doors in 1824 and until its eventual closure in 1923 was witness to some of the most important and pivotal periods in Irish History from the Irish Famine in the years 1845 - 1849 to the founding of the state in 1921 and the subsequent Irish Civil War between 1922 and 1923. The gaol has been extensively refurbished and the exhibition takes you on journey of Irish history during the tumultuous years that the gaol was open. Carefully and sensitively retelling the accounts of several individual prisoners this is one visit where the stories and histories will stay with you long after you have left.
Drombeg Stone Circle is perhaps one of the best examples of stone circles in Ireland and dates to around 150 BC. Formed in a circular fashion, there would have been 17 standing stones at some 2 meters high in the original state – however, today only 13 survive. Look out for the Fulacht Fiadh a communal cooking pit situated by the nearby stream. Hot stones would have been heated and then dropped into the water-filled pit where the water would have been brought to the boil and then the meat added. This is really a mystical place – the air seems to channel the magic of the millennia, so do try and visit the site as early as possible so your inner Celtic spirit is not interrupted by a coachload of over enthusiastic amateur photographers!
Beara Peninsula – is the most westerly part of Cork and the largest peninsula in the county. It is dominated by the Caha Mountains and boarded by Kenmare Bay, Bantry Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Its rugged beauty will captivate you from the off with its wild and rugged coastline, small fishing villages dotted throughout and numerous archaeological sites – you feel the release of the hustle and bustle of city-life almost immediately! The warm welcomes of the locals just seem to cap off any tour of this peninsula and with some 195 kilometres to cover, this is a haven just perfect for hikers, cyclists or for those just seeking a quiet spot to contemplate! Part of the Wild Atlantic Way Route, drive along this most gorgeous of peninsulas to experience all the unbridled beauty of a coastline defined by the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Why not discover some of your own Cork favorites on one of our tours? What about Ireland's second capital Cork City or a visit to the Jameson Distillery in Midleton? How about Cobh or even Kinsale? Enjoy the freedom of the open road with one of our Self-Drive Tours or why don't you build your own Custom Tour of Ireland – the choice is yours!