The last destination on our journey through Ireland was Cork City in County Cork, which is the second largest city in Ireland. Here you’ll find a little bit of everything: lively city life, great food, lots of shopping, and plenty of sites to visit.
One interesting attraction was the Cork City Gaol (don’t let the spelling fool you… it’s still pronounced “jail”). Disclaimer: this is a very touristy place to go, but if you’re into history, it’s worth a visit. Yes, they have cheesy wax figures depicting prison life in the early 19th century, and yes, you get a guided tour from a cassette Walkman and headphones, but it’s a beautiful building with amazing historical value… you can actually see authentic graffiti that was scribbled onto the walls by inmates.
One of our favorite places to eat was Liberty Grill. They’re open from breakfast through dinner and they serve classic meals with their own special twist using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Keep in mind that it’s a popular (and tiny) place, so you may have to wait a bit for a table. Once you’re seated, though, the only thing that will make you want to leave is the guilt you feel for depriving other people of a table.
As for accommodations, I wouldn’t recommend our hotel if you want to be in the heart of everything. It’s a bit far to walk into town every day, driving yourself is tricky (and expensive with city parking), and taxis get pricey after a while. If you want the old-world feel of an elegant Irish hotel and you aren’t opposed to the location inconvenience, however, you may enjoy Hayfield Manor. It’s on the more expensive side and our room was not quite in the pristine condition I had expected, but the bed was comfortable, the bathroom was well-appointed, and the service was impeccable.
Lastly, if you have time for a day trip, I highly recommend a visit to the nearby town of Kinsale, which is less than 20 miles from Cork City. We discovered it by accident, but it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. This little port town has tons of fun things to do, but even if you just spend the day walking around, eating al fresco, and checking out the shops, you’ll have a great time.