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Silesia Airport

Katowice International Airport magazine

Silesia Airport
Issue 59

(5)/2015

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2006-07-14Cork, an extremely picturesque city

 

Cork (Corcaigh in Gaelic) is the capital of the south-westernmost picturesque county of the same name. Together with nearby Kerry, the region is famous for the most beautiful landscapes in all Ireland. The unique charm of Cork has made many tourists settle here permanently.

The city's origins can be traced back to the 7th century when Saint Finbarr founded an abbey and a school here. Nowadays, the 19th century Gothic Revival St Finbarre's Cathedral is located in that place. Since the founding of the city over a thousand years ago, it has changed a great deal, developing from a small merchant town into a unique, thriving, 21st century centre which is the second largest city in Ireland.

The name is derived from the marshes along the banks of the river Lee, and the compact and clearly delimited city centre is located on an island. 19th century suburbs stretch along the surrounding hills. Dramatic events in the 1920s led to widespread destruction caused by the British (much of the city was burnt down), so Cork does not really have any important pre-19th century monuments.

The city owes its unique character to well-developed industry on the one hand and to a rich cultural life on the other. The city is an important seaport, as well as an academic and cultural centre. The narrow lanes, navigable channels and Georgian architecture contribute to the European ambience of Cork.

Traces of Cork's past as a merchant city can be spotted nearly everywhere: in the grey stones of the quay, in the old warehouses and elegant bridges. Many of today's streets used to be navigable channels, with many warehouses and merchant residences along the banks. Steep lanes lead to the 19th century suburbs to the north and south of the island centre, offering excellent views on beautiful buildings.

What is there to see?

There are many 19th century Gothic Revival shrines on the banks of the Lee that cannot be missed. Several monumental Catholic churches are worth a visit, stimulating the imagination with remnants of Cork's past as a merchant city. The churches are mostly works of Pugin and Pain and they include the Church of St Peter and St Paul, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and St Patrick's Church. One should see the pointed National Monument, in memory of those who fell for Irish freedom.

The northern part of the city called Shandon dates back to the splendour of the 18th and 19th century. Cork used to be the most important port in Europe for trading dairy products. What draws attention today is undoubtedly the oval building of the old Cork Butter Exchange, currently a youth cultural centre. From the nearby St Patrick's Hill one can admire a beautiful panorama of the city. In the district of Shandon some old facilities survived that were related to the dairy trade. A fascinating tale about the trade and its importance for the development of the city can be heard in the nearby Butter Museum.

The beautiful St Anne's Church, Shandon is also an easily recognizable landmark, thanks to a nearly five metre tall weather-vane in the shape of a salmon that crowns the tower (from which one can also see a beautiful panorama of the city).

Tourists should not miss the ruins of Blarney Castle, famous in all Ireland. At the top of the tower one can find the Blarney Stone: legend has it that kissing it will give one the gift of eloquence and of persuasion. The castle is surrounded by a picturesque park with many species of plants and diversified landscapes. One can admire ravines with streams, ponds overgrown with plants, caves (the castle was built on a rock where large caverns had previously been drilled), hillocks, dolmens and a park with dozens of trees and bushes.

The port of Cobh is also a charming landmark of the region's capital. Transatlantic ships used to call at the port, most notably the Titanic. The city is dominated by the fine outline of St Colman's Cathedral.

Further to the east of Cork, in Midleton, one can visit the largest whiskey distillery, the Jameson Heritage Centre, and after walking a few kilometres one can reach the old town of Toughal.

A modern shopping centre boasting many facilities usually associated with much larger European cities is located between St Patrick's Street and the Grand Parade. In Cork, large supermarkets still coexist with little shops run by Irish merchants. To the north of St Patrick's St, one can find the narrow French Church Street, Carey's Lane and Paul Street, animated by the presence of cafes and restaurants. South of them there is the covered English Market.
On the other side of the Grand Parade, one has to visit Beamish Brewery, a major competitor of Guinness. Stout has been produced here uninterruptedly since the 17th century. The visit ends with a tasting.

It is certainly worth visiting the second most important gallery in Ireland, Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, situated near the opera. The permanent collection of Irish art is worth seeing, even though it does not include any of the world's greatest masterpieces.

The western part of the island is a housing area. Going in this direction, one should visit Fitzgerald Park, about 1.5 km from the centre, with the Cork Public Museum, and then take a tour of the old prison, Cork Gaol. The museum features mainly the city's history and its role in building the Republic. Archaeological and geological items can also be found here and a small section is devoted to the achievements of local trade and crafts, especially with regard to silver and glass processing.

In 2005 Cork, was proud to hold the status of European Cultural Capital. Many festivals take place in the city, the largest ones being the film festival (beginning of October) and the jazz festival (end of October), both extremely popular.

The airport

It only takes 10 minutes to get from the airport (www.cork-airport.com) to the city centre. There is a daily bus link and one can also reach the centre by train or take a taxi.

More information about the city can be found on the following websites. www.corkcity.ie and www.cork-guide.ie

 

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