THE OLD CITY. Looming over Proby’s Quay, St. Finbarr’s Cathedral is a testament to the Victorian obsession with Neo-Gothic bombast. The cathedral was built between 1735 and 1870, and now houses contemporary art exhibits in the summer. (Bishop St. Open M-Sa 10am-5:30pm. ‚2.50 requested donation.) On anice day, you can get a decent view of Cork (and an unfortunate view of the Beamish Brewery) from Keyser Hill. At the top of the stairs leading up the hill is the Elizabethan Fort, a star-shaped and ivy-covered remnant of English domination. To access the fort’s impressive view, climb the stairs just inside the main gate. (Follow Main St. away from the city center, cross the South Gate Bridge, turn right onto Proby’s Quay, then left onto Keyser Hill. Open 24hr. Free.) In a city lacking a lot of greenery, the area around steeple-less Christ Church provides a quiet spot to rest in Cork. The site, scattered with eclectic statues, suffered the Protestant torch three times between its 1270 inception and its final renovation in 1729. (Off the Grand Parade just north of Bishop Lucy Park. Open 24hr. Free.)
SHANDON AND EMMET PLACE. Like Christ Church, St. Anne’s Church was ravaged by 17th-century pyromaniacal English armies; construction of the current church began in 1722. As a sign of resistance, St. Anne’s sandstone- and limestone- striped steeple inspired the red and white rebel flag still flying throughout the county. Commonly called Shandon Church, St. Anne’s also has the nickname the four faced liar because of its four clock faces that are notoriously out of sync. Many an Irishman has blamed St. Anne’s for a late arrival at work. (Walk up Shandon St. take a right on unmarked Church St. and continue straight. Open June-Sept. M-Th and Sa 10am-5pm. ‚4, students and seniors ‚3.50.) Nearby, the monstrous cement Opera House was erected two decades ago after the older, more elegant opera house went down in flames. (Emmet Pi. Gallery open M-Sa 10am-5pm. Free.) For a more aesthetically pleasing artistic experience, visit the Crawford Art Gallery, which runs a program of temporary exhibitions, both Irish and international. The striking main gallery room is filled with marble ghosts of the Venus de Milo and Michelangelo, among other famed artists. (Off Paul St. Open M-Sa 10am-5pm. Free.)
WESTERN CORK. Built in 1845, University College Cork’s campus is a collection of brooding Gothic buildings, manicured lawns, and sculpture-studded grounds that make for a great afternoon walk or picnic. One of the newer buildings, Boole Library celebrates number-wizard George Boole, mastermind of Boolean logic and model for Sherlock Holmes’s arch-nemesis Prof. James Moriarty. (Main gate on Western Rd. s490 3000; www.ucc.ie.) Across the walkway from UCC’s front gate, El Fitzgerald Park is a must-see in Cork, with beautiful rose gardens and art exhibits courtesy of the Cork Public Museum. (From the front gate of UCC, follow the signposted walkway across the street. Museum open Su 3-5pm, M-F llam-lpm and 2:15- 5pm. Sa-Su ‚1.50. M-F students and seniors free.) If your time in Cork is tight, make sure you also see the Cork City Gaol. The museum offers multimedia tours of the former prison. The disturbingly life-like mannequins are both eerie and thrilling (and also downright amusing with a camera and some goofy friends). A tutorial on Cork’s social history includes tidbits about miserable punishments, such as the human treadmill that was used to grind grain. (Open Mar.-Oct. daily 9:30am- 6pm; Nov.-Feb. 10am-5pm. ‚5, students ‚4. Audio tour included.)
The lively streets of Cork make finding entertainment easy; try Oliver Plunkett Street, Union Quay, and South Main Street for pubs and live music. To keep on top of the scene, check out List Cork, free at local shops.
The Lobby, 1 Union Quay. Gave some of Ireland’s most famous folk acts their big breaks; it features nightly live music with a view of the river. Occasional cover ‚2.50-6.40. Open M-Th until 11:30pm, F-Sa until 12:30am, and Su until 11pm.
An Spailpin Fanac, 28 South Main St. Live trad that complements the decor of this 224- year-old pub. Crowds of visitors and locals come for the live trad offered most nights.
HI Half Moon, on Academy Ln. to the left of the Opera House. The most popular dance club in Cork, with a young, hip crowd, sans teeny-boppers. 18+. Cover ‚9. Open daily until 2am. Purchase tickets from the box office across the street.
Bodega, 46-49 Cornmarket St. off the northern end of Grand Parade, is a striking converted warehouse where patrons relax with glasses of wine on velvet couches. Open M- Th until 11:30pm, F-Sa until 12:30am, and Su until 11pm.
Sin E, 8 Coburg St. just left of MacCurtain St. has some of Cork’s best live music, especially Th nights. Open M-Th until 11:30pm, F-Sa until 12:30am, and Su until 11pm.
The Savoy, center of Patrick St. is a high brow club filled with untouchable women, laments Simon the bartender. Dress to impress. Cover ‚9. Open M-Th until 11:30pm, F- Sa until 12:30am, and Su until 11pm.
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