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Top Destinations in Cork, Ireland

Explore a destination located in Cork, Ireland


County Cork is located in the province of Munster, with a relative population of around 581,231 inhabitants. Cork is the southernmost county of Ireland and is home to a number of prominent technologically-based companies, including Dell EMC and the European headquarters of Apple.[1] With regard to the topography of the county, uplands or hilly areas comprises the general geographical nature of Cork, with a few rivers throughout the county. During the summer, visitors can expect relatively moderate temperatures, with an average high of around 63 degrees Fahrenheit. As for the winter season, temperatures tend to rest near 51 degrees on average. For those who are hoping to spend time outdoors engaging in warm-weather activities, the best time of year to visit County Cork would be during the summer, from late June to early September.[8] Many of the attractions that can be found in Cork are historical sites and castles that date back several centuries. The Blarney Castle is one of the most popular among these historic sites, built from the 15th to the 17th century. Visitors are given the option to explore these sites on a guided or self-guided tour.[17]

What Cork is known for

Situated in the southern region of Ireland, County Cork covers an expanse of approximately 2,900 square miles (7,900 square kilometers). As reported by the most recent census in 2016, the county’s population was 125,657; however, since 2022, Cork’s population has now reached 581,231 residents, which makes it the third most populous county in Ireland. County Cork’s name derives from the city of Cork located within the county.[1]

County Cork is characteristic of several historic sites. One such site is the Blarney Castle, which dates back to some time between the 15th and 17th centuries when it was first built. The Blarney Castle was built by Gaelic lords and Anglo-Irish as a type of fortification or tower house. A typical tower house is about four or five stories tall, containing one or two chambers, as well as a number of ancillary chambers throughout each individual floor. The Blarney Castle is relatively large in size and is comprised of two towers, one of which was added in the 1500s. In the earlier years of its construction, stability and defense were presumably the two main goals of its overall character, as the tower house’s walls are 18 feet thick at the base of the castle. These thicker walls gradually slope inward the further they rise. Tours of the castle are available to visitors, giving people the opportunity to explore the banqueting hall and family room area, the dungeon, and many other sections of the tower house.[17]

Another notable historic castle in Cork County is the Cork City Gaol. This site had formerly served as a prison when it was originally built. Currently, tourists can explore the grounds and learn about the stories of various individuals who resided in the Cork City Gaol as a prisoner. Countess Markievicz, a previous prisoner, had called it “the most comfortable jail” she had ever stayed in. Both self-guided and guided tours are available to visitors. Those who choose a self-guided tour are provided with a guidebook that is available in 11 different languages. An audiobook is also an alternative option for self-guided tourists. As for the guided tours, an experienced staff member acts as a tour guide that leads visitors on a 45-minute journey through the site.[13]

Spike Island is another previous island prison that is now a nature area where visitors can roam. For over 400 years, the site was used as a jail for Cromwellian prisoners. In the 1840s, one of the on-site jails became the largest prison in the world. Another on-site jail that opened in 1921 held 1,200 Irish Republican prisoners during the Irish War of Independence. Nearly 104 acres are currently available for tourists to explore, with two walking trails, abandoned villages, and convict cemeteries. The site offers guided tours that lead visitors from the ferry arrival point to the Fortress. During this guided tour, visitors can learn more about the history of Spike Island.[15]


County Cork is bordered by Limerick to the north, Counties Waterford and Tipperary to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Kerry to the west. By land area, Cork is the largest county in Ireland, as well as the largest of Munster’s six counties by both population and area. A few of the notably largest market towns in the county include Skibbereen, Macroom, Mallow, and Midelton. Cork is characterized by uplands and hills which extend throughout the east and western regions of the county. Farmlands constitute less than one-third of the area as a whole, and pastured land reaches a height of around 800 feet.[11]

The topography of County Cork is primarily composed of natural land features, namely mountains and rivers, some of the more notable being the River Lee, the River Bandon, and River Blackwater. Aside from natural land features, the area is also home to a number of industries, including technology companies such as Dell EMC and the European headquarters of Apple. Dairygold, a farmer-owned dairy co-operative company, additionally resides in County Cork.[16]

Summers in Cork tend to be partly cloudy, with relatively moderate temperatures. Contrastingly, winters are wet, cold, and generally long. Temperatures range roughly between 39 and 66 degrees over the course of the year. From June to September, it is considered to be the warm season, with an average daily high of around 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest month, July, has a high of 66 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 54 degrees. With regard to the cooler season, which lasts from November to March, an average daily high below 51 degrees is typical for County Cork. The amount of cloud coverage in the county depends primarily on seasonal variation. December tends to have a higher percentage of cloud coverage as nearly 68% of the days in this specific month have overcast or mostly cloudy skies. January, in particular, is the coldest month, with an average high of 47 degrees and a low of 39 degrees. Based solely on the subjective tourism score, the best time of year to visit County Cork is from late June to early September, especially for visitors who plan on engaging in warm-weather activities.[8]


In the 15th century, County Cork was given the nickname “The Rebel County,” which is most commonly attributed to Cork’s role in the Irish War of Independence. Additionally, County Cork had been “an anti-Treaty stronghold” during the Irish Civil War. When the MacCarthy Mór Dynasty was the ruler, a considerable amount of what is currently known as County Cork was a part of the Kingdom of Deas Mumhan, also known as the “Desmond” in anglicized terms. The Macarthy Clan was eventually forced to move westward into what is known today as West Cork and County Kerry. This event occurred shortly after the Norman Invasion in the 12th century. In 1318, the city of Cork was given an English Royal Charter and functioned as an English outpost for Old English Culture over the course of several centuries. Years after, the Desmond Rebellion took place from 1569 to 1573 and 1579 to 1583. This war devastated much of County Cork, especially during the Second Desmond Rebellion. After the Desmond Rebellion, English settlers colonized Cork in the Plantation of Munster.[1]

Throughout the 18th century, a number of buildings were added to Cork. From 1720 to 1726, Christ Church was built, and during this same time, St. Annes Shandon was constructed from 1722 to 1726. One of the most well-known features of St. Annes Shandon is the Shandon bells, which were installed in 1752. Other buildings that became a part of Cork are the South Chapel and the South Presentation Convent. Additionally, during the 18th century, large amounts of butter and beef were being exported from Cork to Britain, North America, and the rest of Europe. In 1750, the butter market was built, as well as a corn market in 1740.[14]