Cork City Bed and Breakfast
COUNTY CORK is the largest county in Ireland; Cork City is the second largest city in the Republic. Blarney Castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster in 1446. The castle is located on a thousand acres of beautiful woodland, and is partially hidden by trees, some up to a thousand years old. The castle has been witness to the triumph and turmoil of Irish chiefs and enemy armies. By the 1700's the castle no longer functioned as a fortress.
Queen Elizabeth coined the term "Blarney" when she wrote to Cormac McCarthy, Lord of Blarney. Queen Elizabeth wanted the castle for herself. He would stall her requests by responding with letters overflowing with flatter, ovations of devotion, and loyalty to the crown, without addressing the issue. Lore has it that when you kiss the Blarney Stone, you acquire the gift of "eloquent speech".
To reach the Blarney Stone, you climb 120 steps to the roof. The stone is built into the outer face of a gap in the battlements. One of the legends tells that this stone is part of the "Stone of Destiny" on which the Scottish monarchs were crowned. The castle is five miles from Cork City and very popular with tourists.
Cobh, (pronounced cove), on the Great Island, is one of three large islands in Cork Harbour. It was the port of departure for many Irish during the Great Hunger from 1844 to 1848. At that time it was known as Queenstown. Many sailed hungry and penniless in the deplorable "coffin ships", but never reached their destination. The "Queenstown Story", a multi-media exhibit at Cobh's Victorian Railroad Station tells of their heart-wrenching story and the maritime history of this port.
Cobh also has the dubious distinction of being the last port of call for two of the worst maritime disasters in history. Cobh was the last berth for the Titanic and the Lusitania. The Lusitania sank in Cobh Harbour after being torpedoed by a German U-boat. The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage while crossing the Atlantic. There is a mass grave for the victims of Lusitania in the Old Church, near Casement Square. It is memorial to those that perished in both tragedies.
Above the harbour is St. Colman's Cathedral, with its enormous neo-Gothic spire and a 47 bell carillon that weighs 7,700 pounds. This is the largest harmonized bell system in Ireland. The cathedral has beautiful mosaic flooring and wonderfully colored windows.
Cork City is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, with a population of 140,000. St. Finbarr first built a monastery on the site that would later become Cork City in the year 650. The city grew along the banks of the River Lee at the point where it splits into two channels. Ferries arrive and depart from the U.K. and France.
There is much history to be explored in Cork City, dating as far back as the 1st century. From the expansive trade it conducted in the 16th century, to the laws enacted against the importation of commodities, and the atrocities committed by the Englishman, Oliver Cromwell. Even the cobble of the streets has a story. There are quaint shops and museums. It is a bustling cosmopolitan city that offers diversity and cultural activities that appeal to all.
Cork City is basically an island with 16 bridges, the River Lee flows around it. The main commercial area is located along St. Patrick Street, Grand Parade, Washington Street, Oliver Plunkett Street and Main Street. The charm and beauty of Cork City evolves around the contrasts the city offers. There are a multitude of theatres and a variety of arts. There is also a diverse range of excellent restaurants, cafes, and pubs with traditional Irish music. The city also has many unique and quaint shops. Across the Southern Channel are some of the oldest streets in Cork, along with the University College of Cork's campus.
North of the River Lee are the Shandon Bells at the 18th century, St. Anne's Church. You can climb to the tower, see the city and play the bells. St. Anne's has the "four faced liar's clock" where the time is never the same on any face. St. Finbarr's Cathedral is a 19th century French Gothic structure. The original church dates to 650 A.D. It is noted for its unique mosaics and ornamentation.
Fota Wildlife Park is on one of the three islands in Cork Harbour featuring 90 different species of wildlife where animals roam in their natural habitat. Cheetahs are the only caged animals. The park is the largest breeder of cheetahs in the world. The animals come from five continents. The arboretum has many exotic plants and trees. It is one of the best in Europe. A train is used to take visitors on a guided tour. The complex also includes the Fota Island Golf Course and Fota House, an architecturally unique residence dating from the early 1800's.
Kinsale is a quaint fishing and resort town with a picture perfect harbour. There are wonderful narrow streets lined with colorfully painted buildings. It is renowned for its art galleries and gourmet restaurants. Kinsale is considered the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. There is an abundance of accommodations to choose from ranging in price and amenities. Kinsale is a very popular tourist spot, especially during the high season. At the Battle of Kinsale, in 1601, the English defeated the Irish with their Spanish allies. This marked the end of the Gaelic Aristocracy.
There are many sites to enjoy around Kinsale. These include the Harbour, the Courthouse, Desmond Castle, James Fort and Charles Fort. There are also a variety of walking tours. From May through October, there are a variety of festivals and events. Many of the pubs offer traditional Irish music. There is also informal entertainment at many of the bars and lounges. Some of the hotels offer Cabarets.
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