I’ve lived in Cork city for five years. I moved down here in September of 2009 and went on to gain the accent in ways I can’t get rid of, gain my degree, become friends with some of the best people in the universe, and have wound up still here all these years later, in our little family of three and still working here. In those five years I’ve learned there is a lot to love about this place – you have to start looking at the positives when you hate rain and you live here; there’s quite a lot of rain so there has to be quite a lot to offset it. So, in the spirit of positivity, here is my little Love Letter to Cork – things you really must do here, in my opinion.
Shandon Bell Tower
If you’re looking for views of the entire city, and the chance to play an actual set of bells, you’ll find no better place. Channel your inner Quasimodo and climb to the top, up a ton-load of steps (and one rather dodgy feeling wooden ladder – this is always the bit that tests my fear of heights). It’s well worth a look, especially on a sunny day. Makes an excellent day-date – it’s where himself brought me on our second date, and I’ve loved it ever since. Haven’t been up in a while – not really the best of places to go while pregnant or wielding a buggy – but definitely planning a trip up again soon.
Any winter time trip to Cork should contain a trip to O Conails Chocolatiers. The best hot chocolate I have ever tasted (I recommend the milk and white), with the tastiest treats and the comfiest sofas upstairs (never sit here alone, your chances of escaping the sofa afterwards without help is between slim and none). This was a discovery in my first year of college and every year it has just drawn me back. Planning a trip in in December after my month of dietary purgatory, as a treat and reward of course.
Glucksman Art Gallery, UCC
Despite studying here for three years, I have a feeling I didn’t grace the doors of the art gallery on campus until after I’d graduated. I was missing out. Not only does it contain one of the best views over Cork I’ve found yet (large ceiling to floor window on the second floor), but it hosts some really cool exhibitions, and though a donation is suggested, it can be a cool free day out. There’s also a fantastic cafe/restaurant downstairs, Fresco, which does the most amazing Student Breakfast (full Irish for a fiver), and their coffee is like rocket fuel. Also a great place to pick up random gifts, I’ve managed to find an absolutely gorgeously illustrated book of the alphabet as gaeilge for E, with the mandatory missing letters, in their gift shop. Great choice. While the rest of the campus is definitely worth a wander around, this is one for sure for a semi-rainy day.
This place on Anglesea St is, in my opinion, one of Cork’s hidden jewels. It is what it says on the tin, cupcakes, cupcakes and more cupcakes. The frosting is to die for and the variety of flavours and toppings is pretty unbeatable, as well as the bargain price of two euro for these massive cupcakes (with special offers on hot drinks with the cupcakes). Bit of a walk outside of town but well worth it for the culinary joy. Yum.
Cork’s one and only all night internet cafe, with a proper little coffee shop to the front of it. Home to hot chocolate that you make yourself with hot milk and those chocolate lollipop things, large pots of tea and a welcoming attitude – or an abundance of stressed out students in exam time – I know, I was one of them when I found this place (they had printers at 3am and mine was broken, it just so happened that they gave me coffee and sealed the deal). Great for an alternative to going for a drink after 7pm, which there really should be more of.
This place on Washington Street does the best coffee around, in my opinion. Staff are really friendly and their soups are also to die for. I worked around the corner from it for a year and grew quite fond of it – they’re also one of the few places that when I say Skinny latte, they don’t try to fob me off with “All lattes are skinny lattes, they’re made with the low fat milk”. Bonus points for the carrot cake too. (I’m realising this list could also be known as “How Lisa gained weight in Cork, a cafe guide”, oops). Not the most buggy friendly but perfect for a morning coffee en route to work, or a lunch with friends minus kiddies.
Can you think of anywhere else essential that I’ve left out? Leave a comment, and check these places out if you get the chance!