Blarney Castle /
Gunpowder Mills and Kinsale
The Lakes of Killarney /
The Ring of Kerry
Tralee and Dingle
How to Get There
Cork City is the second largest city in Ireland with a population of 128,000. Cork has just celebrated its Millenium and it has been a University City for 150 years. The Irish word for Cork is "Corcaigh" which means marsh. Today what is the main shopping area and city centre is built on a maze of small islands where the river Lee met the sea. Most of the river channels were bridged over to form todays streets, which is why many are still called "Quays" such as the Coal Quay. Many of the buildings in the South Mall which is the main road through the business area of the city still have mooring rights for ships, although today they are many metres from the waters edge. The old city centre was along the North and South Main Streets, which today has been replaced by Patrick's Street. The City is famous for its stout brewing industry of which both Murphy's and Bemish are world famous.
Even though Cork is a small city of some 200,000 people it is as full of "buzz" and activity as New York or Paris. The city centre is ideal for shopping with many well known stores. There are many places to visit including: Cork Gaol, 19th century prison life; Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald's Park; Crawford Art Gallery at Emmet's Place; Dunkathel House, in Glanmire, Classic late Georgian mansion circa 1790; Shandon Bells, Cork's most famous steeple, visitors welcome to ring its bells; Shandon Craft Centre, in restored Cork butter market; St. FinBarres Cathedral (shown on left); and University College, Cork, opened in 1845 with beautiful grounds for walking. There are also several beautifully laid out parks. A pleasure boat trip is also available for a guided tour around the harbour.
At night the city is alive with a vast choice of entertainment from pubs & bars with live music sessions, multi-screen cinemas, nightclubs to plays and concerts at the Everyman Palace and the Opera House.
For those interested in sports there is a vast range of activity / participation sports available from Golf and fishing to paintball. Alternatively many sports events are regularly held such as athletics, soccer and of course the traditional Irish sports of Gaelic Football and Hurling. Crowds of up to 40,000 regularly attend large football and hurling matches in the main stadium of Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
At the end of the day relax and enjoy a meal in one of Corks fine restaurants. Your choice is huge from traditional Irish cooking to the best of Indian, Chinese and Thai dishes, at prices that will suit all budgets. There is a large range of accommodation available for those wishing to stay in Cork during their visit to the Southwest.
Cork is especially famous for Language Studies. It is said that the best spoken English in the world is to be found in Cork, with thousands of students arriving in Cork every year to learn or improve on their English.
How to Get There
The dramatic cliffs of Moher are Europe's bastion against the Atlantic Ocean. Over 600ft (185 metres) of vertical cliffs face the might of the sea. Standing on the edge one becomes very aware of the power and vastness of nature. For those who enjoy bird watching, hundreds can be seen circling the cliffs.
If you continue along the R478 inland again, you will enter the Burren, which is a large 100 sq. mile (260 sq. Km) plateau of limestone "pavements" which in Summer is full of rare, fragile and beautifully coloured flowers hidden in the cracks between the slabs of rock. Everywhere there are traces of ancient civilisations, with dolmens, round towers, ancient churches and holy wells to name just a few. The Burren display centre in Kilfenora, details the 350 millions years that has made the Burren one of the worlds more important natural attractions. Just 15 miles (24Km) from the Cliffs of Moher - just off the N67 (North) are the Aillwee Caves (shown above). Here you can take a 30 minute stroll through beautiful caverns, cross over bridged chasms and pass alongside both a thunderous waterfall and a frozen waterfall. Hibernation chambers of the long extinct Irish brown bear can also be seen. On returning to the surface you can enjoy a meal while overlooking a view of Galway Bay and the Connemara mountains in the distance.
The easiest route back to Cork / Kerry is to follow the N67 to Kinvarra and then the R347 to Ardrahan where you join the main N18 heading South. Continue south to Ennis where you originally left the N18 heading towards the cliffs and take the R469 to Quin (Approx 6 miles (10Km) from Ennis. Here at Craggaunowen, Ireland's Celtic heritage is brought to life with the complete re-construction of a bronze age settlement or Crannog. A Crannog is a settlement built on an artificial lake island for defence and here at Craggaunowen, "actors" completely re-enlive Bronze Age life as it was. Also to be seen is the "Brendan" boat, a leather hulled boat called a currach in which the famous explorer Tim Sevrin sailed from Ireland to America, re-enacting the Voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator which took place hundreds of years before America was re-discovered by Christopher Columbus.
Following the R469 / R462 through the village of Sixmilebridge back to the N18 and then heading West for approx 3 miles (5Km) you will come to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval castle in Ireland and was completely restored in 1954 complete with all furnishings and tapestries. Full medieval banquets are held nightly with both staff and the "lord and Lady", resplendent in full medieval costumes.
Within the grounds is Bunratty Folk Park, where Irish village life of the late 1800's is re-created. There are many traditional dwellings such as shops and a school and you will see people using traditional crafts such as weaving and pottery.