Cork Harbour was the Titanic’s last port of call, and Cobh’s hilly streets, dominated by St. Colman’s Cathedral, look like the liner left just yesterday. Don’t miss the colourful row of houses known as the deck-of-cards – the maritime heritage is at once pretty and poignant. It’s experiencing a boom in modern-day cruise tourism, too.
Kinsale isn’t just a place, they say – it’s a state of mind. As far as daytrips from Cork go, you may come for the flapping sails, colourful cottages and hanging baskets, but you’ll stay for the food. Kinsale has its own Good Food Circle, and restaurants like Fishy Fishy serve up some of the best seafood in the south.
3) Fota Island
Fota Island is best known for its wildlife park (fotawildlife.ie), a spacious oasis that can accommodate both roaming giraffe and tired-legged toddlers. But the island is also home to Fota House & Gardens, a little-known arboretum full of walkways, trees and ornamental ponds.
The weekly farmers’ market in Midleton is East Cork’s pantry. “It’s a real dinger,” says Darina Allen, whose Ballymaloe Cookery School is just one stallholders at the Saturday shindig. Afterwards, head to Maróg O’Brien’s Farmgate Cafe for a hunk of cake.
It’s a defining image of Irish tourism – visitors lying on their backs, dipping over the side of Blarney Castle, and kissing a stone that is reputed to impart the gift of the gab. Whether you come away with the said eloquence or not, you’ll certainly have a unique story to tell.