Vibrant Cork has something for everyone, whether you want to get immersed in history and culture, attend a lively festival, or relax in stunning surroundings.
Like much of Ireland, Cork has a rich and diverse history which wasn't always quite as tranquil as its grandiose old buildings and idyllic riversides might seem today. Once a monastic settlement founded by St Finbarre (from whom the cathedral in the city earned its name), Cork was for much of its history entirely enclosed within a great wall as the city's inhabitants fought against Cork's largely hostile neighbours. In the 20th century, the city's defences against hostility were maintained, with Cork significantly involved in the War of Independence.
Today, only a handful of monuments and some remnants of the city's walls and gates remain as a testament to Cork's tempestuous past. Despite this history, Corkonians are largely friendly and welcoming to visitors, proud of their heritage and vibrant culture. In 2005, Cork was granted the title of European Capital of Culture, a status which both celebrated and encouraged the development of such institutes and events as the Cork School of Music, the Crawford College of Art and Design, the Cork Opera House, the Cork Jazz Festival and the Cork Film Festival, to name but a few. Cork's numerous other arts and theatre institutes host festivals, plays, performances and exhibitions throughout the year. As might be expected of a destination with such an exciting cultural calendar, accommodation and travel prices vary depending on the time of year, so it may be worth considering which events are of particular interest to you before booking your trip.
Cork also has a great culinary scene, with specialist food stalls often erected in co-ordination with major festivals. For those interested in gastronomic history, foods traditional to the area include tripe, drisheen and crubeens, although such dishes are admittedly not to everyone's taste! Modern palates might be better entertained by the range of local produce and artisan cheeses and breads on offer at Cork's English Market.