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For other uses of Cork, see Cork (disambiguation). Cork City redirects here, for the football club, see Cork City FC

Cork (Corcaigh in Irish) is the second city of the Republic of Ireland. The principal city, too, of County Cork and of the province of Munster, it is situated slightly inland from the southern coast proper, located at . The River Lee flows through the city, an island in the river forming the main part of the city centre just before the Lee flows into Lough Mahon and thence to Cork Harbour, one of the world's largest natural harbours. The city is a major Irish seaport — with quays and docks sited along the broad waterway of the Lee on the city's East side. Cork City has a population of 123,062 (186,239 including its immediate suburbs) while the county (excluding city) has a population of 324,767 (CSO 2002).

The city's name is derived from an Irish word meaning "marshy place", referring to its situation on the River Lee. Cork has a reputation for independence running from the times of Viking invasions to the Irish Civil War, which has given it the nickname of "the Rebel County". It is usual for Corkonians to refer to Cork as the "true capital of Ireland". (Dublin was a foreign stronghold for most of its history). More recently, t-shirts proclaiming the People's Republic of Cork have been popular.

See also: List of Cork people


Cork is an historic city, with the city charter being granted over 800 years ago by King John in 1185. Cork has its beginnings in a much earlier monastic settlement, founded by St Finbar. Over the centuries, much of the city was rebuilt, time and again, after numerous fires and attacks by Vikings or Norsemen. The city was at one time fully walled, and several sections and gates remain. The title of Mayor of Cork was established by royal charter in 1318, and the title was changed to Lord Mayor in 1900. The centre of Cork was gutted by fires started by the Black and Tans in the War of Independence, part of the British government policy of reprisals at the time. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by Anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the Pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.

Railway heritage

Cork city was one of the most rail orientated cities in Ireland. It has boasted a total of perhaps 8 stations at various times. The main route, still much the same today, is that from Dublin. Originally terminating on the city's outskirts at Blackpool, the Glanmire tunnel now connects it to the city centre terminus (nowadays actually a through station) of Kent Station . The town of Cóbh, on Great Island, east of the city, is also connected — though the route originally had its own terminus perpendicular to the current station. This also connected to the East Cork seaside town of Youghal, until the 1980s.

Other rail route terminating or traversing Cork city were the Cork, Blackrock and Passage railway, lines to Macroom and Blarney, as well as the famous West Cork Railway connecting Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and many other West Cork towns. West Cork trains terminated at Albert Quay, across the river from Kent Station (though an on-street rail 'system' connected the two for rolling stock and cargo movement).

The city also boasted its own tram system until the beginning of the 1930s, which ran from the City Centre out to the suburbs. Placenames today still tell of the routes, such as Tramway Terrace in Douglas.

All that remains of the once-extensive public transport system is the line to Dublin (also serving Mallow, County Kerry and Limerick) and that to Cóbh. The only rail projects currently under consideration are an enhanced suburban service along the current lines, and a connection towards Youghal (probably only as far as Midleton).

Places of interest

There are two cathedrals in the city:

The modern Cork Opera House is one of the few such venues in Ireland.

Cork city in general boasts some fabulous architecture, capable of rivalling that of Dublin or Belfast. The main street, Patrick Street, was remodelled in the years up to 2004. As the main shopping street, it boasts striking buildings along its broad avenue (much of which is given to pedestrian use). Grand Parade, another part of the route, is a tree-lined avenue, home to many offices and financial institutions. The old financial centre, is the South Mall with several banks whose interior derive from the 19th century, and are very deserving of a visit. Many of its buildings are in the Georgian style, although the modern County Hall tower is one of the tallest buildings in Ireland. Across the river is Ireland's longest building, the Mental Hospital built in Victorian times.

Cork's most famous building, also accessible to the public, is the church tower of Shandon dominating the North side of the city, with the North and East sides faced in red sandstone, and the West and South sides in the predominant stone of the region, white limestone. The clock tower on the church is known by locals as The Four Liars, as from the base of the building, each clock face appears to show a different time. The bells of Shandon may be rung by members of the public.

The City Hall, another splendid building of limestone, replaced the previous one destroyed in the burning of Cork in the "troubles" of 1920/21. The cost of this new building was provided by the British Government in the 1930s as a gesture of reconciliation.

Fitzgerald's Park, to the west of the city, is worth a visit — as are the grounds of University College Cork, through which the River Lee flows.

The English Market, accessible from Grand Parade, Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street and Princes Street, is a covered market for fish, fruit, meat, spices and luxury foods. The origins of the market can be traced back to 1610, but the present building dates from 1786.

The cross-continent European walking route E8 trail starts at Cork, ending 4700km away in Istanbul, Turkey.


Cork's cultural life is surprisingly vibrant, considering its small population. Music, theatre, dance and film all play a prominent role in city life. The Cork School of Music and the Crawford College of Art & Design provide a constant throughput of new blood, as do the active theatre component of many courses at University College Cork (UCC). Worth checking out are: Corcadorca Theatre Company, where Cillian Murphy (slated to play the villain in 2005's Batman Begins) got his start; Cork Film Festival, a major supporter of the art of the short film; The Institute for Choreography and Dance, a national contemporary dance resource; the Triskel Arts Centre; Cork Jazz Festival ; etc.

Recent additions to the arts infrastructure include splendid modern additions to Cork Opera House and the Crawford Art Gallery. The new Lewis Glucksman Gallery opened in the Autumn of 2004 at UCC, and building is about to commence on the new 60 million School of Music building.

Cork is the European Capital of Culture for 2005.

The city's FM radio band is impressively crowded: as well as Radio 1, 2FM, Lyric FM, Radio na Gealtachta(all run by RTE), and Today FM, there are well-run local stations such as 96FM, CUH FM, and Red FM, and even amateur efforts like Galaxy FM and Freak FM.


Cork is also an important educational center in Ireland. University College Cork (UCC), one of Ireland's seven universities, offers a wide variety of courses including arts, engineering, law, medicine and science. The university was named "Irish University of the Year 2003–2004" by the Sunday Times. Cork Institute of Technology offers a variety of third level course, and is one of the few places in Ireland were nautical studies are available. In addition there are colleges of art, design and music at the institiute.

See Also: Christian Brothers College, Cork

See also

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