We arrived into Cork on Tuesday evening after travelling from Galway and stopping off at the stunning Doonbeg Golf Course on the way. From the moment we arrived we liked what we saw – the city is compact, some of the buildings are colourfully painted and the city has a river running through it. Steve says “all cities with rivers are pretty” and I said “yes you’re probably right”. He then goes on to say “Wanganui is probably the exception”. A bit harsh on his hometown – apologies to those Wanagnuiites reading the blog : )
We were staying at The River Lee. Hotel which was right on the river – it is a very nice hotel. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant that night which was very nice.
After playing golf at the Cork Golf Club the next day I went into town to explore the city. Cork has some nice shops. It also has the English Market which is full of fresh produce, meat, cheeses, breads etc… The market is well supported locally and has become a tourist attraction – drawing visitors from throughout the world, including a visit by Queen Elizabeth II during her 2011 state visit. The term English Market was coined in the 19th Century to distinguish the market from the nearby St. Peter’s Market which was known as the Irish Market.
I have also been impressed with the health food and organic shops in Ireland. There was a great one in Galway and I found one in Cork called Quay Co-op which had a whole food and organic market as well as a vegetarian restaurant next door. I have moved on from exploring supermarkets – I am now into exploring health food shops. Getting sadder by the minute according to Steve! I had lunch at the vegetarian restaurant by myself on Thursday and it was awesome. Quay Co-op has been an institution in Cork since 1982.
On the Wednesday night we went to Market Lane for dinner – this restaurant was ranked number one on Trip Advisor and we saw why. The food was fantastic as was the service. Our waitress was from the Ukraine but she had been in Ireland for the past 10 years – she is marrying an Irish lad in the not too distant future “if he keeps behaving himself” she added : ) I had the vegetarian moussaka – it was divine and huge – I couldn’t even eat it all – I think that might be a first for me – I never leave food behind!
I also checked out Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Construction of this cathedral started in 1863.
I have saved the best bit of Cork until last – we caught up with an old primary and intermediate school friend of mine, David Pomeroy. He has made Cork his home for the past 20 years although he misses NZ every day. David married an Irish girl Olga and has two lovely children – Sophie who is 8 and Darragh who is 6. We worked out we hadn’t seen each other for about 25 years although with Facebook these days you do feel somewhat up to date and connected. Dave picked us up from the hotel and we went back to his place for a good old Kiwi / Irish BBQ. It was great reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ and old friends who remain friends to this day.
A little bit about Cork…
Cork is a city in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and in the province of Munster. With a population of 119,230, it is the second largest city in the state and the third most populous on the island of Ireland.
The city is built on the River Lee which divides into two channels at the western end of the city. The city centre is located on the island created by the channels. At the eastern end of the city centre where the channels re-converge, quays and docks along the river banks lead to Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, which is one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
Cork City is at the heart of industry in the south of Ireland. Its main area of industry is pharmaceuticals, with Pfizer Inc. and Swiss company Novartis being big employers in the region. The most famous product of the Cork pharmaceutical industry is Viagra. Cork is also the European headquarters of Apple Inc. where over 3,000 staff are involved in manufacturing, R&D and customer support. Logitech and EMC Corporation are also important IT employers in the area.
The city is also home to the Heineken Brewery that brews Murphy’s Irish Stout and the nearby Beamish and Crawford brewery (taken over by Heineken in 2008) which have been in the city for generations. And for many years, Cork was the home to Ford Motor Company, which manufactured cars in the docklands area before the plant was closed in 1984. Henry Ford’s grandfather was from West Cork, which was one of the main reasons for opening up the manufacturing facility in Cork. But technology has replaced the old manufacturing businesses of the 1970s and 1980s, with people now working in the many I.T. centres of the city – such as Amazon.com, the online retailer, which has set up in Cork Airport Business Park.
Cork’s deep harbour allows ships of any size to enter, bringing trade and easy import/export of products. Cork Airport also allows easy access to continental Europe and Cork Kent railway station in the city centre provides good rail links for domestic trade.
Cork is an important educational centre in Ireland. University College Cork (UCC), a constituent university of the National University of Ireland, offers a wide variety of courses in Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Science.