Cork was originally a Spartan settlement established by Saint Finbar. Much of it was rebuilt over the ages, after suffering damage from the many fires and attacks inflicted by Vikings and other Scandinavian tribes. At a certain point in history, Cork was completely surrounded by walls. The title of Mayor of Cork was officially established by royal deed in 1318, and transformed to Lord Mayor in 1900.
The name Cork means 'swampy place' in Irish, but don't let that put you off from visiting this beautiful city. The name only emerged because the city is located on the Lee. Cork's nickname is 'Rebel Country'- it may have suffered invasions and wars throughout history, but it has always fought back valiantly. A great deal of native pride is evident, as residents of this city call it the real Irish capital, with Dublin having largely been under foreign rule over the ages, and is hardly a substitute for the classic Irish authenticity which Cork presents.
During the War of Independence with Britain, Cork was partially destroyed by fire. It was also the site of some major battles. During the Civil War of Ireland, Cork was captured by anti-Treaty forces for a term. Later, the pro-Treaty National Army took control over the city again.
We couldn't possibly go any further without mentioning Cork's railway system, a part of its most important heritage. For a city of this size, it has had as many as 8 train stations, a singular achievement in itself. It is a very important link in the Irish railway infrastructure. The routes link a number of picturesque neighboring towns, with the main line naturally being from Dublin. Freight trains transport stock and cargo through here, and another interesting fact is that cross-continental route E8 begins in Cork and ends in Istanbul.
The river Lee runs through Cork, and the central part of the city is actually an island in the river. The Lee flows into Cork Harbor, which is one of the biggest natural ports in the world. Cork is one of Ireland's biggest seaports.
Cork's aquatic territory is truly something to behold. One landmark is Patrick's Bridge, stretching across the Lee and connecting the two banks. Cork is not a true holiday destination in the classic sense; there are no shimmering lights, glamorous attractions, nor bustling streets. This city is for those seeking a quiet rest in an authentic Irish atmosphere.
Other interesting sites are St Finbarre's Cathedral, named after the founder of Cork, and St Mary's Cathedral. You cannot miss the most dominant building in the city, the Shandon Church Tower, which is open to the public. Its clock tower is distinctive in that the clock shows a different time when viewed from certain angles.
Cork displays remarkable architecture, a large part of it in the Georgian style. The main street, Patrick Street, was redesigned prior to 2004. It is the major shopping outlet of the city. Marvelous buildings surround it, and it offers the convenience of wide sidewalks. The old business district of Cork is a charming replica of the 19th Century.
Fitzgerald Park is perfect for those who cannot go a day without exercise. It is located to the west of Cork. Shoppers in pursuit of fresh produce must go to the English Market, which is within easy reach of all of the larger streets. This market first opened in 1610.