There are a few things I’m embarrassed about. I don’t know my right from my left, for starters. No matter how many times people try to teach me, I still end up giving bad directions. I’m also embarrassed that I’ve lived an hour’s flight from Ireland for almost eight years and I’ve only been there twice in that time. While learning my right from left is pretty much a futile pursuit at this point, traveling to Ireland isn’t. Which is why I’m spending the next 36 hours in Cork.

Cork, Ireland

Why Cork? Locals proclaim that Cork is the true capital of Ireland, and since the only other place I’ve been to in the Republic of Ireland is Dublin, it’s naturally the next place to go. As it turns out, I’ve chosen well.

Street in Cork, Ireland

I arrive in Cork with my boyfriend on a sunny Saturday morning, ready to see what the city has to offer. Our first stop is the luxurious Hayfield Manor, a five-star hotel in the Cork city center. The hotel has offered us a stay for the night, and we find ourselves in a spacious room overlooking the a pretty garden. Despite high expectations, the elegant decor and attention to detail still manage to impress us.

Hayfield Manor, Cork

We settle into Hayfield Manor, exploring the restaurant and cozy corners where deliciously graceful afternoon teas are served. We also look longingly at the spa, but with only 36 hours in Cork, we sadly don’t have time to indulge.

Shop in Cork

It’s okay, though, because Cork has enough to entertain us that we don’t miss it too much. We walk from the hotel into the city, heading straight for the English Market.

English Market, Cork

Cork’s English Market is one of the most famous covered food markets in Ireland. It has rows of vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to cloth-covered jars of jam and bright green bell peppers. We take it all in, letting our appetites grow with our appreciation.

English Market, Cork

Eventually we make our way upstairs to a balcony overlooking the stalls. Farmgate Cafe has come highly recommended, and we have local fish and salads for lunch as the market activity buzzes below.

Food at the English Market, Cork

Back outside, we explore an open-air Saturday market in the square across the street, then turn our attention to Cork’s cultural side. Like many Irish cities, this one is famous for its pubs and nightlife, but there’s a lot to explore during the day, too.

Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork

We start at Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork’s main religious landmark. The building is impressive with its Neo-Gothic arches and tall spires, but we discover a little garden maze there that captivates us just as much.

Grass Maze in Cork

Above the cathedral we walk along the stone walls of the 17th-century Elizabeth Fort, a star-shaped fortress with big black canons and views across the city.

Elizabeth Fort, Cork

Diving deeper into Cork’s cultural highlights, we visit the two main art museums, the Crawford Art Gallery in the heart of the city center and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery on the grounds of University College, Cork. The latter awes us with its striking contemporary architecture, and we’re climbing the steps for a better view before we even know what’s inside.

Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork

Around it, the university buildings are reminiscent of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. Stone quadrangles draped in autumn leaves make us feel like students again, and a few cool modern buildings catch our attention, too.

University College, Cork

Having checked the box for our culture fix, we spend the rest of the afternoon in Cork doing what any good visitors should: exploring the pubs. A colorful pub called Reidy’s Vault Bar first lures us in with its bright red door, and we try Beamish stout (don’t order Guinness in this city) in a lovely room with an ornate dark wood bar and lots of tables of various shapes and sizes.

Reidy's Vault Bar, Cork

From there we stumble upon Le Fenix, a small pub with a low wood beam ceiling and whisky bottles with glowing candles on every table. It has a cozy ambiance that makes us want to settle in for the night.

Good Food Sign in Cork

But Cork’s food scene calls again, and we find ourselves at dinner at Market Lane, a bustling bistro with a good selection of local food (the wine list could use some work). My sweet potato and feta hash is a winner, and we end the day on a positive note.

Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork

Back at Hayfield Manor, live music has taken over the lobby and seemingly every other corner of the hotel’s ground floor. We’re pleasantly surprised to see such a lively scene, even if it could make falling asleep a bit tricky with the noise.

Colorful House in Cork

The next day we have a leisurely breakfast at the hotelโ€”we’ve been told by a Twitter follower that the breakfast is worth lingering over, and it’s true. But we don’t want to spend the rest of our 36 hours in Cork at the table. No, we set off on a mission to one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland. But you’ll have to wait until the next post to read about it.

Cork, Ireland

In the meantime, I can safely say that while I may never know my right from my left, I’m glad I’m no longer embarrassed to have seen so little of Ireland.

36 Comments on Lady’s Guide to 36 Hours in Cork

  1. Miranda | Miranda's Notebook
    October 15, 2015 at 6:39 am (2 years ago)

    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to Ireland at all! I obviously need to rectify that, and Cork looks like it would be the perfect place for a weekend away! xxx

    Reply
  2. Frankie The Mayfairy
    October 15, 2015 at 9:34 am (2 years ago)

    I’ve been to Cork! A very long time ago, but it was such a lovely place. I also knew a guy who had such trouble remembering his lefts and rights that he had to subtly write them on either side of his rear vision mirror for driving! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 15, 2015 at 12:54 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s a good idea! Maybe I should try it!

      Reply
    • Janise Nolan Kasper
      March 29, 2016 at 1:49 pm (1 year ago)

      Went to Cork in 2010, first time in Ireland. Being a trip of a lifetime, my daughter and I spent a glorious month travelling all around Ireland, my family is originally from the midlands, went to the church my grandparents were married, original homested, etc. Loved it all want to go back again before I am far too old. Would love to take my son who is extremely proud of his Irish heritage. We are Canadian now

      Reply
      • A Lady in London
        March 29, 2016 at 2:05 pm (1 year ago)

        Wow, that’s great! I hope you get to go back again sometime.

        Reply
  3. Tanja
    October 15, 2015 at 9:44 am (2 years ago)

    Great doors pics!:) Ireland is my big wish!:)

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 15, 2015 at 12:54 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks! I hope you make it out there sometime soon!

      Reply
  4. Julie @ A Life Exotic
    October 15, 2015 at 11:32 am (2 years ago)

    I’m terrible at my rights and lefts, too! Glad I’m not the only one ๐Ÿ˜‰ I didn’t make it to Cork while I lived in London so it’s fun to explore it through your photos. Looks like the weather really cooperated for your visit!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 15, 2015 at 12:54 pm (2 years ago)

      Yeah, we were lucky with the weather! I’m glad you can relate to not knowing right from left!

      Reply
  5. David
    October 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm (2 years ago)

    As a Corkonian, I’ve enjoyed Part 1 of your piece; if you’re ever back this way, try venturing further afield to the towns of Kinsale (famous for its Gourmet Festival), Cobh (last landfall of the Titanic), and west to Clonakilty and Skibbereen, in easy reach of beautiful beaches…

    Reply
  6. Emmalene
    October 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm (2 years ago)

    Yep, really need to pop over the water sometime soon! Cork looks so pretty!

    Reply
  7. Stacey
    October 16, 2015 at 12:05 am (2 years ago)

    Cork looks awesome! I’m so glad this is on our list of places to visit when my boyfriend and I head to Ireland for a week in March. I’ll definitely stay tuned for the next post to see what else you guys got to see and do!

    Reply
  8. Pedro @travelwithpedro
    October 16, 2015 at 9:37 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Julie, great post and pictures! I was in Cork a long time ago and now I feel like going back again. Pity you didn’t have time to visit Cobh down south. Now I’m curious about this famous landmark. Shall I guess? Or shall I only say you sound even more eloquent now? ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm (2 years ago)

      Yeah, I wish I had been able to spend more time there! Your guess is a good one!

      Reply
  9. The slow pace
    October 16, 2015 at 10:17 am (2 years ago)

    I’ve only been in ireland twice and both times I visited Dublin. Next time I will have to explore a bit more, according to your gorgeous pictures!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm (2 years ago)

      Yeah, it’s definitely worth another trip!

      Reply
  10. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    October 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm (2 years ago)

    What a beautiful room! My best friend studied abroad in Cork a few years ago and she absolutely fell in love with the place, especially that market! Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 18, 2015 at 6:30 pm (2 years ago)

      You’re welcome! Happy travels to you, too!

      Reply
  11. Charlie
    October 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm (2 years ago)

    We must have visited Ireland around the same time! I started in Cork too and then we hired a car and drove along the south west coast for a week, it was glorious. I’ve been writing up my road trip diaries here, if you’re interested!

    Reply
  12. Alex
    October 28, 2015 at 5:06 am (2 years ago)

    Cork sounds lovely and a great place for a weekend trip from London! Adding it to my bucket list ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 28, 2015 at 6:09 am (2 years ago)

      Yeah, it’s a lovely place! I hope you enjoy visiting!

      Reply
  13. Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    October 28, 2015 at 8:28 am (2 years ago)

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m an American with Irish heritage and I’ve never stepped foot in Ireland! That will be changing soon, though, as I’ve started planning my first trip there. I had planned to focus on Dublin, but this has me rethinking my itinerary. Cork looks so charming!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      October 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Yeah, Cork is worth a visit. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  14. Edna
    November 10, 2015 at 3:56 pm (2 years ago)

    Ah, we were in Cork at the same time! Such fantastic weather, wasn’t it? You’ll have to head to Galway next — that may be my favorite town in Ireland.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      November 11, 2015 at 9:16 am (2 years ago)

      Wow, great coincidence! I would love to go to Galway sometime. It sounds amazing!

      Reply
  15. Florence Experiences Luxe
    January 7, 2016 at 9:38 am (2 years ago)

    I will go in Ireland this year and Cork seems to be a nice city to visit : there is so much to do and see ! Thanks for your post !

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      January 7, 2016 at 12:37 pm (2 years ago)

      You’re welcome! I hope you have a good time!

      Reply
  16. John Dineen
    February 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm (1 year ago)

    What a fantastic post on Cork. Lovely pics and you went to see nice places while you were here. Great choice of hotel too – I always love the charm of Hayfield Manor. I live here – well in Kinsale actually, just south of Cork. Cork is all the richer for welcoming guests like you. Thanks for posting!!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      February 2, 2016 at 5:13 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks, John! It’s such a lovely city!

      Reply
  17. Carol
    March 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm (1 year ago)

    Hello, I enjoyed reading 36 hours in Cork! My GGM was Cork born ~1859, and later met my GGF, from UK, marrying in NYC in 1884. We travel to Belfast in June to hub’s school reunion, and, from there, I look forward to seeing and experiencing Cork. Many thanks.

    Reply

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