7 hours in Cork, Ireland
*POST UPDATED FEBRUARY 2022.
You’re probably thinking, how does one come to spend seven hours in Cork? Well. It takes three hours to drive from Dublin city centre to Cork. It also takes forty minutes to get from where I live into Dublin city centre. Let’s not forget walking time, which we shall average at around thirteen minutes. If you’ve been calculating, that’s three hours & fifty-three minutes, one way. A return journey in the same day brings the total travel time to roughly seven hours & forty-six minutes, without delays. Yes, any rational person would extend their visit to include a night in Cork, so as not to spend more time travelling to a city than actually being in a city.
Clearly, I am not a very rational person.
See, I didn’t really have a choice – one of my best friends lives in Cork. And by the time I got around to visiting her, she’d been there for nearly a year. A whole year. I was getting awfully close to entering worst-best-friend-ever territory, so I decided to remedy this. One fine Tuesday – on my day off – I got up at an ungodly hour & jumped on the second bus of the morning to Cork. No amount of coffee on earth could have gotten me on the first bus. She met me off the bus & we proceeded to jam a whole day’s worth of exploring into seven short hours.
what to do
Crawford Art Gallery // full disclosure: we wandered inside because it was ever-so-slightly too early to go for a drink. Turns out that the gallery is actually super cool, & the cafe ain’t bad either! There was an exhibition on which involved rows upon rows of muted bells laid out on the floor (‘Beyond Silence: A Bell Rings in an Empty Sky’). There’s also a fabulous room full of casts from the sculptures at The Vatican. My favourites of which will forever be Laocoon & His Sons, & the Belvedere Torso. Pro tip: don’t miss the Harry Clarke stained glass windows on the top floor. Added bonus: steal a glance at the Starbucks across the road from the gallery when you’re leaving. The building dates back to 1730 & is strangely wonky! Address: Emmett Pl, Centre, Cork
The English Market // if you don’t visit The English Market, did you even really go to Cork? You just have to go. I was tempted by a load of different shops & stalls, but two stood out more than others. A Spanish stall selling the olives, cheeses, and meats my dreams are made of. And a the little shop selling handmade wooden items. Miraculously, I left the market without buying a wooden plate, which was truly unforeseen. Address: Princes St, Centre, Cork
Vibes & Scribes // this is one of the coolest book shops I’ve ever been in. They pretty much have a section for every single topic you can think of. All of which actually seemed well stocked with a varied range on each topic. This isn’t always the case in second-hand bookshops, so I was happy! Needless to say, I spent all of my time immersed in the cookery section & grudgingly was dragged out. Address: 21 Lavitt’s Quay, Centre, Cork, T12 HYT9
where to eat
Liberty Grill // any which way you search it on Google, Liberty Grill always comes up as THE place you should brunch in Cork. Honestly? It’s a little underwhelming. Maybe it’s just because I’m spoiled with great brunch options here in Dublin, but Liberty Grill didn’t really do it for me. Address: 32 Washington St, Centre, Cork, T12 T880
Amicus // our chosen dinner restaurant. Admittedly, we were kind of tipsy by the time we made it to Amicus, but we loved every second of our time there. We ordered a bottle of wine, the Mezze Board, sweet potato fries, & the Chicken Liver Pate, all to share. When all the food started to arrive, they moved us to a much roomier table near the window, which was fab. We had just over fifty minutes to wolf everything down, & somehow we also managed to squeeze in a wonderfully decadent chocolate mousse. Fifty minutes well spent! Address: Paul St, Centre, Cork, T12 WP97
where to get coffee
O’Conaill Chocolate // currently the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had is from Marlene’s Chocolate Haven in Westport. O’Conaill’s hot chocolate, I’m pleased to inform you, is a close second. The smell of chocolate hits you as soon as you walk in the door & a quick glance around revealed that every single person was drinking hot chocolate. Clearly a good sign. Added bonus: you get little chocolate drops with every drink, so lovely! Address: 16B French Church St, Centre, Cork, T12 HR92. *2022 update: sadly, now closed.
Cork Coffee Roasters // very widely regarded as the best coffee in Cork. Too much coffee just isn’t a thought that I ever have, so I powered on for a flat white in CCR just after having two coffees with breakfast while my friend looked on in horror. I have no regrets. The coffee certainly lived up to its well deserved title & the cafe itself is so damn cute. Address: 2 Bridge St, Victorian Quarter, Cork
where to drink
Franciscan Well // apparently the locals call it Fran Well. I must warn you that if you call it by its full name then you will be unmercifully mocked. A chatty barman lovingly talked us through each of the beers, let us taste a couple, & then perfectly poured our craft beers of choice. We took our pints out the back to a buzzy little area filled with picnic tables & strewn with fairy lights. Address: 14 N Mall, Sunday’s Well, Cork, T23 P264
Sober Lane Courtyard // we stopped in here for two quick drinks on our way back from the Cathedral. It was nothing hugely special, just an outside seating area with a bar & a giant projector. Aside from all of that, I must admit that I get a kick out of the name Sober Lane Courtyard. Address: Sober Ln, Cork