As a destination Ireland is hard to beat in general, but Cork is one place that I find myself returning to again and again. Let me tell you why.
I love Ireland in general, I do. As a Scouser from Liverpool half of my family were from there anyway and there was of course the famous Liverpudlian connection with Ireland as opposed to England, so given the fact that it has always been so easy to just hop over the water on the ferry or a cheap flight, Ireland was always an obvious choice for me to take shorter backpacking trips in my slightly misspent youth.
But as much as there are lot of places in Ireland I really like, Cork is one of those places that I instantly fell in love with the second I arrived over half a decade ago, one of those places that just welcomes you in with open arms and keeps a spot by the fire warm for when you return, and one of those destinations I just can’t stay away from. It is a destination that feels like an ancient travellers rest, and carries that tradition proudly by being absolutely perfect for backpackers.
Where to go and things to do.
Cork is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to things to do and see for travellers. Apart from being the start (or end) point for Ireland’s famous Wild Atlantic Way, there are the obvious monuments to visit from Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney stone to the ubiquitous St Finn Barre’s Cathedral as well as a wealth of smaller attractions. Cork City itself will keep you busy for weeks, and that is before you get to the surrounding county.
Cork is one of those places where stories and memories just seep out of the most mundane experiences. The time I got myself a little lost looking for Saint Finn Barre’s Cathedral and asked a passing stranger for directions, nothing out of the ordinary in that, until that stranger happened to be a tweed wearing academic who insisted on not only showing me to the Cathedral but spending an hour with me regaling me about the history of the place and acting as an impromptu tour guide.
Cork is the day spent with a touring band after sharing my breakfast table with them at a local cafe. Cork is the raucous night out with two very nice local students after simply asking what the nightlife was like.
The trope of friendly locals is not one I like to use when talking about destinations I love, and I won’t use it here either because it does not do the people of Cork justice. Travellers are as welcome in this city as family, and are brought into the fold like long lost relatives. There is a kindred spirit for all travellers in Cork, and it is surprising more travellers don’t see that for themselves.
I think Cork appealled to my romantic literary side too. There is of course the famous Cork literary festival to boast about, but Cork has always had a strong and vibrant tradition of attracting poets, writers and novelists, and it is not uncommon to see some slightly dishevelled daydreamer with an absent minded gaze scribbling into a notepad in a cafe or bar.
If any destination has a personality then Cork would have the soul of a poet. Cork is infused with creative energy and is the personification of a literary bard asking for coins for the Witcher. I love that about Cork and it has somehow always managed to bring out the muse in me and calm the more self destructive traits writers tend to be prone to as well.
But more than that, Cork has a deep rooted rebellious streak that I can identify with wholeheartedly. It is not known as the rebel city for nothing and the city’s history can speak for itself on that, but it is the spirit more than the history or politics of the area that speaks to me and keeps me coming back again and again. It is that spark deep within the city’s persona, that slow, burning ember that threatens to explode like a powder keg at any authority that dares to try and contain it, that rebellious passion that fuels the creative spirit of Cork that I love so much.
Where I stay in Cork.
I have stayed in a few guesthouses and hostels in Cork over the years, but one place I keep going back to more for the craic than anything else, is the Bru Bar and Hostel. It is a quirky and modern place with a unique design, cheap beds, cheap drink deals and a nightlife that is unmatched! Read my full review here.
Rebellious, welcoming, and always ready and willing to show you a damn good craic, Cork is a city that I have been drawn back to again and again since I first arrived, and will continue to come back to for many years to come.
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