Last year we set of travelling around parts of Ireland with Expedia as part of an #ExpediaExplores project. Having visited Derry, our next stop was the very south of Ireland and county Cork. Anyone who has travelled from Down to Cork will appreciate how long the journey is and it took us just over 5 hours to get to our hotel. We stayed in the Ambassador Hotel which is a few minutes outside the city centre and although we’ve certainly stayed in better hotels, it ticked all the boxes we needed – good food, close to city centre and ample parking. We arrived pretty late at night so it was a case of getting in and grabbing some dinner before hitting the sack as we knew we had a busy day ahead of us.
Exploring Cork city centre
We got up early and polished off our breakfast at The Ambassador before setting off to explore Cork. The weather was a mix of wet, windy and sunny so a little bit of everything really but we had come prepared for whatever Cork had to throw us. As keen foodies there was only one place to start our journey around Cork and that was The English Market.
The English Market
Once described by Rick Stein as “the best covered market in the UK and Ireland”, The English Market is a must see for any visiting Cork, especially those who appreciate food and local producers. We would however disagree with Rick as while we were certainly impressed by The English Market, we didn’t think it came close to St George’s Market in Belfast. If you are planning on taking in The English Market do so on an empty stomach so you can look forward to sampling some goodies. Our visit was short though as we were on a tight schedule to try and cram in as much as we possibly could.A quick stop at St Fin Barre’s
Saint Fin Barre’s is the Church of Ireland Cathedral in Cork city centre and an impressive building at that. We took a quick walk around the grounds of the cathedral before heading back into the city centre. It was a nice quiet area with amazing architecture. We didn’t go into the cathedral as there was a service on but it was a nice stop as we continued to explore the city.Crawford Art Gallery
Having visited a food market and cathedral, there was only one place to stop of next – Crawford Art Gallery. Now we wouldn’t claim to be huge art lovers (although Helen does have a growing interest) but the Crawford Gallery had some great modern exhibitions on display. There was a few school groups at the gallery so we tended to avoid the areas that were busy. As a result we managed to get ourselves lost (don’t ask how). As we left the gallery, the weather started to take a turn for the worse so we retreated to a cafe for some lunch.After grabbing some lunch we set of on foot to explore some more of the city centre including the Cork Opera House, the Cork Butter Museum, the Bells of Shandon at St Anne’s Church and Aunty Nellies Sweet Shop (well we do have a sweet tooth). We then headed back to the hotel to grab the car before heading on to the popular fishing village of Kinsale which was the location of our second night in Cork. But before we made the short trip to Kinsale we had one more place to check out – Cork City Gaol.A step back in time at Cork City Gaol
Cork City Gaol is the old city jail and dates back to 1824. The Gaol was a bit outside of the city centre and still looking very much the same as it did in 1824 (not that we were around then). The tour of the jail has over 20 points of interest and shares the story of former prisoners both male and female. You can step into the cells to see models of inmates from yesteryear including links to the Irish famine from the 1800’s. You can see first-hand the difference in conditions between the guards headquarters and the prison cells. The jail is also famous for being one of Ireland’s largest women’s jails back in the day and if you want to take a walk back in time then get yourself down to the Gaol.Next stop, Kinsale
After leaving Cork City Gaol we made the short trip to the fishing village of Kinsale and arrived at the wonderful Acton’s Hotel. Kinsale was certainly the highlight of our weekend break to Cork and we’ll be telling you all about our stay in Kinsale in our next blog.