Cork city guide: what to see, plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

November 3, 2016

Ireland’s ‘rebel city’ is often just a starting point for exploring the rugged west, but with 24 annual festivals, a cracking food scene and great pubs, there are plenty of reasons to linger

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“It’s always Cork first and Ireland second,” said Roy Keane in a 1997 RTE documentary, Have Boots Will Travel. Keane, now the national football team’s assistant manager, was describing how he replies when people ask where he’s from. However, the reality is this self-proclaimed “rebel city” often plays second fiddle to Dublin in terms of attention, influence and media hubbub – and that even extends to it as a short-break destination. But missing out on Cork is a mistake. This is a city with a little bit of everything, and a touch of magic.

Blessed by a location in southern Ireland that means fresh seafood plus lush countryside for dairy produce and livestock, Cork’s food scene is flourishing under the watchful eye of chefs such as Kate Lawlor and Denis Cotter, and at restaurants including Electric, Farmgate Cafe, Fenn’s Quay and Market Lane. Beer thoughts may start with Beamish and Murphy’s but craft breweries, such as award-winner Rising Sons, as well as Elbow Lane, the Franciscan Well, and the Cotton Ball Brewing Co, provide character in a pub scene that is alive, well and adhering to cliches – in the best possible sense.

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