Cork City Centre

Cork City Centre

Cork is Ireland’s second largest city. It has a population of over 210,000 people. As with all cities it is a mix of both commerical and residential use. 

The name Cork comes from the Irish word Corcaigh meaning marsh. Cork City Centre covers the original walled city between the two channels of the River Lee as well as the area south of the old city as far as tower street. 

The old walled city is the central business district of Cork City and is a hub of activity for it’s surrounding suburbs. The main shopping area is centered around St. Patricks Street and Grand Parade but lots of large international as well as independent shops can be found throughout the city. 

Public Transport


Although it can be hilly in places Cork is a very pedestrian friendly city. It is very easy and safe to move around the city on foot and there is rarely a place within Cork city centre that is more than a 20 minute walk away!

Bus Routes

Cork City Centre is the centre of the Cork Bus Network. The main bus stops in the area are; St. Patrick’s Street, Merchant’s Quay, Parnell Place Bus Station and Grand Parade / South Mall. From these stops there are routes serving the suburbs and nearby towns as well as the intercity services from Parnell Place Bus Station. To see a full route map click here

Coca Cola Bikes Scheme

In recent year’s more and more effort has been put in by local authorities to make Cork a bicycle friendly city. This can be seen by the increasing ammount of dedicated bike lanes as well as the Coca Cola sponsored public bicyle stations which are dotted around Cork City Centre.


There are many taxi services running in the area such as

Satellite Taxi – 021 480 80 80

Cork Taxi CoOp – 021 427 2222

Yellow Cabs – 021 487 4444

The area is also served by the FreeNow Taxi App.


The nearest train station is Kent Station in the Victorian Quarter. This serves local commuter lines as well as intercity rail services. 


History & Heritage 

Cork is one of the oldest cities in Europe as the first settlement here is thought to have been in the 7th century with the monastery of Cork around what is now St. Fin Barres Cathedral. There is some debate as to who actually founded this monastery but it was reputably St. Fin Barre and so he is now the patron saint of the city. Early records of this monastery document it’s attack by the Vikings until they eventually came to a place of mutually beneficial trade. 

These Vikings eventually intermarried with the native Irish and became known as the Ostmen (east men) and established Cork as a centre of trade and commerce. In the 12th century this was enhanced further as the MacCarthys of Desmond came to power over much of Munster and established Cork as their capital.  The MacCarthys built their fortress in the area in north that is now named after this fort in Shandon while the Ostmen remained in power in the south.

This continued until 1177 when the Norman’s invaded Cork and took control of the area in the name of King Henry II. Prince John visited the area in 1185 and around this time granted a charter to Cork City which it has retained ever since. The Normans constructed a wall around the part of the city on the island of Cork and thus created the walled city of Cork. These walls continued to serve a defensive purpose right up until the Siege of Cork in the 17th century.

The Normans had to constantly defend themselves from the native Irish and by the 14th century the cost of this defence was having a negative effect on the economy of the City. This combined with poor hygiene standards of the time meant that when the black death came to the city it had a devastating effect with up to 35% of the population thought to have died.

The economic decline of the city continued during the 15th & 16th century particularly as the city came to deal with the consequences of the reformation and the resulting power struggle between the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans. In the 17th century fortunes began to once again improve and it is thought the population of the city trebled in the years 1600-1640. This period saw increased trade with cities like Bristol as well as other European ports. This came to an end in 1645 when the Irish and catholics were expelled from Cork City. This began almost 50 years of struggle between the new english protestant and the catholics they had expelled.

This came to an end when the Williamite army came to take Cork from the Jacobite supporting catholics in 1690. The siege of Cork which attacked the walled city of Cork from both north and south with artillery and warships meant the walls had no chance and quickly the siege was over.

With this turmoil now over the city once again began to expand and flourish during the 18th century. Industries such as tanning, textiles, brewing and distilling took off to great success. The also saw the expansion of the world famous Cork Butter Market. In 1798 a rebellion took place in Ireland in response to the concentration of power in the protestant ascendancy to the detriment of the native Irish and catholics. While the city of Cork was largely untouched the authorities took action and supporters of the rebellion were taken and shot by firing squad. These people are now commemorated in the National Monument on Grand Parade.

The 19th century was not good for Ireland and for Cork city. The end of the Napoleonic wars led to a decline in the economy and expansion of trade from UK ports meant trade from Cork suffered. While some industries continued to survive and Cork became a transatlantic trade port unemployment levels still continued to rise. This combined with the great famine led to a period of great devastation. The poverty of the time led to the creation of tenement housing and slums in the city centre. While it was a period of economic decline for the city many important institutions and utilities were set up at this time for example UCC in 1849, Port of Cork Company in 1813, Crawford School of Art in the 1880’s.

The decline of Cork continued throughout the 19th century and indeed the early 20th century. This time was a significant period for Ireland as the struggle for home rule led to the war of Independence and the 1916 rising. One of the worst atrocities that happened to Cork during the time was the burning of Cork. On December 11th 1920 british forces set fire to many building along Patricks street destroying the city hall and Carnegie library and with them many years of historic records. Many businesses were also destroyed along the street. Many of the leaders of the uprising were from Cork and they can be remembered today in many of it’s street names and landmarks.

Following this war and the resulting negotiations the Republic of Ireland was established as a free state. Although the economy did not improve greatly and there was many periods of emigration during the 20th century.  The city continued to grow outwards as the poor were resettled outside the city centre in some of it’s current suburbs and the city centre rejuvenated. The economy was unstable or in decline until the 1980’s when as a result of Ireland joining the EU (then ECC) a great period of growth took off and the city flourished. Although recession hit after the 2008 bank crash Cork is once again a growing city and with the expansion of the city boundaries in 2019 is Ireland’s fastest growing city.


There are many superb things to see and do in Cork City Centre. 

If you want to see the sites why not try one of the amazing tours; Cork Historic Walking Tours, Cork City Tours or for something a bit spookier Cork Ghost Tour.

If you want to check out some of the cities amazing art scene take a trip to Triskel Arts Centre or the Crawford Art Gallery.

There city is full of places for history buffs to marvel at. Some examples of these are Cork City Hall, the Great War Memorial, the National Monument, the Elizabeth Fort or the Red Abbey Tower.

There is also plenty of religous heritage to look into eg. Nano Nagle Place and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

To chill out in a park there is Bishop Lucey Park in the dead centre of the city or one of the new parklets popping up across the city like the people’s parklet on Douglas Street. Or for an even bigger escape head to Escape Spa Cork attacked to the Imperial Hotel.

Finally no trip to Cork is complete without a trip to the English Market. This market is here since 1788 and is one of the best places to get local food and produce or just to take in the buzz of Cork City Centre. 

Culture & Activity

Sport & Clubs

There are lots of ways to keep fit and active in Cork City Centre. 

There are numerous gyms in the area such as Club Vitae Health & Fitness Club at Clayton Hotel, One Life Fitness, ACLAÍ or River’s Edge Fitness Centre.

If that isn’t your thing check out Yoga Republic or Aikido Cork & Cork Energy Arts Centre to keep your energy in line.

Or if you are just looking to knock down some pins or pot some pool balls check out the Mardyke Entertainment Complex.

Eating & Drinking

There are two many tasty restaurants and thirst quenching pubs in bars in Cork City Centre to list them all off but it is safe to say there is something for everyone in the area. All styles and classes of cuisine are covered off from Michelin Star fine dining to the quick kebab at the end of a night. 

The bar scene is hopping too with lots of late bars and nightclubs to suit everyone’s taste. 

We have these listed in our guide for the area below and we will be adding more and more all the time.  


There is a thriving music scene in Cork which is of no surprise when you consider it is the home town of legends like John Spillane, Rory Gallagher, The Frank & Walters and the Sultans of Ping. There are also regular music festivals in the City such as the Cork Jazz Festival which attract large numbers to the bars and venues of the city.

Some of the amazing venues hosting all genres of music in Cork City include;  

Cork Opera House, The Crane Lane Theatre, Cyprus Avenue, Rearden’s Bar, Oliver Plunkett Bar, Charlies Bar, Coughlans, The Gables, the Triskel Arts Centre, Dwyer’s Bar, Dali and the Roundy.

There are also some fantastic schools teaching music in Cork City Centre such as the CIT Cork School of Music, the International School of Music and Chenta Music School.


Cork is a multinational and multi faith city and those of all beliefs and none are very welcome in the City. Here are some of the places of religious practice in the area.

Unitarian Church Princes Street

Holy Trinity Franciscan Catholic Church

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church

Cork Church Community

Malayalam Pentacostal Church 

St Peter & Paul’s Roman Catholic Church

St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church

St. Francis Roman Catholic Church

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

Cork Gospel Hall 

Quaker Meeting House

Presentation Sisters Convent Chapel

St. Finbarr’s South Catholic Church

Cork Seventh Day Adventist Church

St Nicholas Church of Ireland

Biserica Penticostala Maranta Cork

Cove Street Christian Fellowship 

St Fin Barres Cathedral – Church of Ireland


There are many schools and institutes of education based in the centre of Cork City. As well as those listed belowed there are many more in the areas surrounding this. For example nearby University College Cork and Munster Technological University are both within a 15 minute drive from the city centre.

Primary Education:

St Maries of the Isle National School

Cork Educate Together National School


St Aloysius Catholic Secondary School

Dean College  

Colaiste Daibhéid

St Kevin’s Special School

3rd Level & Vocational Courses

UCC Centre for Executive Education

ICOT College English School

Cork College of Beauty Therapy

Cork English Academy – Hanover Street

National Languages Training Centre

CCAE Cork Centre for Architectural Education 

Cork Classical Art Atelier

St John’s Central College

ICOT College English School,

AllTalk Training 

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