Cork city is a special place for my family because it’s where my parents were born. So, needless to say we’ve spent a lot of time there and since I’ve been over 18 we’ve been exploring the best places to enjoy a good Guiness.
One thing all my friends talk about when they head to Ireland is how much better the black stuff tastes over there. So here’s a little guide to Cork and some great little places for a pint.
Cork city might be the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland but in the hearts of the locals their city is superior in every other way to any other location on the island. As they would have it they are ‘Irish by blood but Cork by the grace of God!’
There’s a bit of a swagger about Cork that belies its compact size. The city centre is an island bordered by two channels of the river lee, these channels reconnect east of the city to create one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Walking around the city is easy and pleasant because the streets are regularly intersected by bridges and the views of the river; not unlike Venice according to the locals!
Cork city lends itself to a gentle ramble regardless of the weather conditions as it can be regularly interspersed with stops at the many public houses dotted around. A good starting point is the Chateau situated on Patricks street, the city’s main through-fare. Here, you can sit in comfort in the wonderfully cosy bar or brave the elements and sit outside and watch Corkonians go about their business. Good homely food is served throughout the day.
The Cork institution that is the Long Valley, a short walk across Patricks street to Winthrop street, opposite the city’s main post office should not be missed. A bar since the 1840’s, the interior gives you a sense of stepping back in time, the wonderful wood panelling, the old mirrors and stain glass create an atmosphere of calm and encourage you to have a rest or in Irish: lig do scith. Aside from a great pint of Murphys, the Long Valley is famed for its door stop sandwiches, you simply must have one. It’s a Cork tradition!
If you tear yourself away from the Long Valley, you can walk up Oliver Plunkett Street (the street with the Post Office) halfway up it is intersected by Princes Street, take a right here and after a short walk you will find yourself at the entrance to the English Market. This is a wonderful covered food market that busses with activity and a fabulous array of foods, wander through here and marvel at the displays and array of produce. Follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth and visit Kay O’Connell’s fish mongers, the counter is a sight to behold.
Leaving the English Market at the Grand Parade turn right and head towards Cornmarket street, this is the site of the Coal Quay which was has a long history of street traders and today has a regular Saturday market. It doesn’t need to be a Saturday to visit Dennehy’s pub, another excellent watering hole that offers a traditional, welcoming and friendly venue to enjoy a drink or two.