Top Things You Never Thought You’d See in Cork


Cork is full of surprises. It is much more than just a city break destination and combines traditional Irish charm with a modern twist. But even if you think you know what Cork is all about, we want to introduce you to some of its more unusual attractions.

There is plenty to see in both the city and the surrounding area that you probably wouldn’t think would feature on a trip to this part of the world. So book a car from Cork airport and go exploring for yourself. Here is a guide to some of the things you may see along the way.

A zebra

Zebras, ostriches and giraffes may conjure up images of expensive safari holidays in Africa, but you can spot these animals right here in Cork and it’s not at a zoo. In fact, it is out to sea, as the Fota Wildlife Park is situated on an island in the city’s harbour.

With more than 70 species of exotic animals spread across 40 acres of grassland you will feel like you have been transported to the Serengeti. As well as the unusual animals there are also some rare species of trees and shrubs to learn about too at this wildlife reserve.

The second biggest harbour in the world

The aforementioned harbour itself is quite an attraction as the only other such location in the world that is bigger is in Sydney, Australia, which is quite a lot further to travel. As well as Fota Island, Cork’s harbour is also home to several other islands including Spike Island, which once housed a prison.

Great Island is the biggest and has a population of around 10,000 people, giving you some perspective on the size of the harbour. The town of Cobh on the island has a particularly pretty waterfront featuring colourful houses and a striking church.

Your friends kissing a stone

The sight of your friends, partner or family kissing a great big piece of rock is likely to feature on your trip to Cork. Not just any rock but the Blarney Stone, which is supposed to bestow the gift of eloquence onto anyone who presses their lips to it.

This is when your hire car will come into its own as you can all jump inside to make the journey to Blarney Castle, where the stone can be found. The rest of the grounds, the castle and the house are all interesting to look around too.

A steeplechase

Ever wondered why it’s called a steeplechase? It is because back in 1752 a member of the Duhallow Hunt Club in Cork set out to beat a neighbour in a race from the church steeple at Buttevant to the church steeple at Doneraile.

Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake covered the four miles cross country, but a tradition was born and the first steeplechase run over a proper track and fences began was staged in 1810.

Last year the first steeplechase was re-enacted on October 13th to mark 260 years since the event was first staged. Catching a steeplechase event in Cork is a special experience due to the city’s importance in the sport’s history. Check if a race will be held during your stay and try to work it into your itinerary if possible.

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