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Cork, Republic of Ireland

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Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It has an urban population of 140,000, so it's small in size but big in character.

The name Cork is an anglicisation of the Gaelic word Corcaigh or Corcach, meaning marsh or wetland. It was founded by the Vikings in the 12th Century, and the early history of the city goes like this:

  • C 606 AD - St Finbarr founded a monastic settlement.

  • 630 - St Finbarr died at Cloyne and was buried at his cathedral in Cork.

  • 822 - Cork was wasted by the Scandinavians and again in 833 and 839.

  • 978 - Cork was destroyed by fire.

  • 1013 - A Danish fleet sailed into the harbour and in the ensuing raid by the Norsemen the city was burnt.

  • 1064 - Cork was again burnt.

  • 1080 - Cork destroyed by fire.

  • 1089 - Dermot, son of Turlogh O'Brien, laid waste and plundered Cork and sacrilegiously carried away the relics of St Finbarr.

So, it seems like it was quite a party place in those days...

Places to Visit

Places to see in Cork City include the University, the Butter Market, St Finbarr's Cathedral, the City Gaol and the Crawford Art Gallery.

A few miles from the city is the town of Blarney, home of the famous Blarney Stone. You pay a lot of money to enter the grounds of the Blarney castle, climb a couple of hundred steps, turn yourself upside down and kiss the stone. In an instant you will become profoundly eloquent, loquacious and a master of genial conversation, not to mention impoverished, tired, and sore from contorting yourself in a completely unnatural manner.

If it's drink you are interested in (and believe me you will definitely be interested in it after a visit to Blarney), there is a large whiskey distillery in Midleton, and two breweries, Murphy's and Beamish, in Cork city centre. If you want to cop out and eat instead, head for Kinsale, 'gourmet capital' of Ireland, where a zillion restaurants compete to cook you the best meal you ever tried. Beats kissing a stone at the very least.

At the end of October each year there is a really good Jazz and Blues festival in Cork. Be prepared for huge crowds if you are interested in visiting around then, but it is definitely worth the hassle as the music is electrifying. You don't need to be a Jazz buff to enjoy it.

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