Your perfect day in Cork should probably start and end like mine. I hope you are as lucky as I am with the weather. The sun is out and it’s already autumn. But even when it’s cloudy and kind of miserable, Cork is enjoyable with many places to fall in love with indoors.
Have your breakfast diner-style at the self service place Nash 19. It’s at Princess Str. and opens up from a self-service counter to a nice gallery space for Irish artists with spacious seating. I decided to go with porridge, fresh fruit, almonds and maple sirup. The cappuccino was OK, not a barista-style one but still very good. Plus, you could get endless refills on the filter coffee. I enjoyed the free space, free wifi and nice staff.
Since Nash 19 is right in town, you should wander around there. I really love the little paths through the town where I easily get lost. A river here, a canal there. There is always something to explore. Cork is a big, big building site at the moment. It will change a lot in the next couple of years into a more modern and driven riverside town with its harbor and closeness to the sea. But Ireland’s south will – in my opinion – never get into this hush-rush like Dublin. It’s laid back and easy going.
So are all its students. University College Cork just a little out of the historical town center is a space to lean back and enjoy. On days like these students are gathering in the sunny spots outside and on the grass, having coffee and sandwiches, chatting away. I walked past them and visited:
The gallery was founded in 2004. Founding donor, philanthropist and financier Lewis Glucksman gave the gallery its name. After winning prices for its outstanding architecture it is also a hub for interesting exhibitions especially the themed ones are extremely challenging. I happened to be allowed to touch objects of art in the exhibition Please Touch. The second show I walked through is mainly connected with the Please Touch one due to prepared stations where you could also touch facsimile of the abstract art works. Can Josef and Anni Albers‘ artworks be experienced without using our eyes?
Another part of the gallery I didn’t use my eyes for was the cafe. It’s simply delicious and has many vegetarian and vegan options. I went for a green tea kombucha and a peanut butter sponge cake.
10am – 5pm, Tuesday – Saturday
2pm – 5pm, Sundays
A heck of a walk! Black Rock Castle and Observatory is slightly outside Cork city centre but totally walkable. If you decide to walk next to river Lee you are surrounded of beautiful old (I think) pine trees planted like an alley. When you reach Blackrock you could either stop at the Natural Bakery and have some kind of treat or head on to the castle which is about 600m from Blackrock square. You pass gorgeous villas and bay houses,… I might have had a peek into one or two.
Blackrock Castle itself is situated on a rock leaning into the river and a beautiful courtyard inside. You can have some lunch here at the cafe. It’s busy and buzzy but still nice. Visit the castle with one of the two tours or even both of them. I ran out of time and had to choose one tour and went for the observation tour. After you have a look around the different topics from questions like how did the human species evolve? to what kind of galaxies to we know of? the observatory offers a very broad and interesting view of modern astronomy and space science. But there is also a space to learn about the history of Blackrock Castle and why it was important. For the observation tour the tour guide asks you to enter a blow-up dome in one of the towers of the castle, to sit back and relax. For around 30 minutes you learn about the Northern hemisphere and its sky, its stars and planets and what you will be able to see the night you visit. I learned much about the planets visible – Jupiter, Mars and Saturn – as well as some galaxies far, far away. I love the way you get detailed information about star signs and constellations, how they were created in Ancient Greece and why their called Cassiopeia or Orion. I definitely need to hang out more in the country to find those constellations more easily.
The second tour is a historical tour around the castle including a visit of the terrace to overlook river Lee.
daily 10am – 5pm
last admission 4pm
Ichigo Ichie is an experience you will not forget easily. The fine Japanese dining restaurant just achieved its first Michelin star in 2018 (Congrats!) and Ichigo Ichie’s chef Takashi Miyazaki is the most laid back haute cuisine chef I have ever met. I went for a space at the bar to watch him plate and was absolutely delighted to make conversation with him throughout the dinner.
I decided to get a 6 course menu rather than 12 course. Even though the portions are small, I usually cannot take more than 6. It was plenty and it was absolutely gorgeous. The menu focuses on local fish and seafood, trying to get ever bit as fresh as possible. I had oysters from Galway, since they were in season. Aged fish with innovative toppings (like truffle) and Miyazaki’s dashi were my favorites. But see yourself and be convinced why to make your way to Cork:
I’m not #MadAboutCork which was their hashtag to apply for the cultural capital 2020 but madly in love with the town.