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How long should I stay in Ireland?

If you are coming all the way from the USA, I would recommend spending at least a week in Ireland. It will take you a few days to get over jetlag, so I would suggest getting to Ireland in advance of the wedding to acclimate. 

Where should I visit around Cork?

Cork is a vibrant city, there are so many things to see! 

  • Ring the Shandon Bells at St. Anne's Church - one of the oldest churches in Cork, you can climb up the steep spiral stairway and ring the bells yourself (they include sheet music to popular tunes so you can play a real song). 

  • The Butter Museum - All you could ever want to know about butter! 

  • Tour the Jameson Distillery - Whiskey, what more do I need to say?

  • Tour the Rebel City Distillery - This time, it's gin! 

  • Free live music seven nights/week at the Crane Lane Theatre - This spot is a real favourite of Alan and Gretchen's. Many a night has been spent here boogying away! Also one of the late-night spots in Cork. Just upstairs is a quieter late-night venue, called Arthur Mayne's (has a nice speakeasy vibe to it). 

  • Enjoy traditional Irish music at Sin É (seven nights/week) and the Corner House

  • Head to Gretchen's favourite pub in town, The Friary. Enjoy frequent costume contests, quiz nights, and other whacky themed nights. Great community feel. Did I mention that it's Nicolas Cage-themed? 

  • Elizabeth Fort - free entrance, you can walk along the old ramparts and view all of Cork

  • Shop at the English Market - Cork's old covered market, a great spot to grab some fresh cheeses, breads, sandwiches, and other treats. The olive stand is a personal favourite! 

  • Walk through the university campus and Fitzgerald's Park - UCC looks like Hogwarts, and the park is a verdant escape from the bustle of the city. Just at the end of the park is the Shakey Bridge, a local favourite.

Where are some cool places to go around Ireland for nature / camping / hiking?

There are many lovely forest and cliff walks around Cork, and further afield. A few places worth visiting to enjoy the lush landscapes of Ireland: 

  • West Cork - Rugged coastlines and colourful fishing villages are the hallmark of West Cork, and it's the first place I explored when I first moved here. There are loads of archaeological sites you can check out (marked by brown signs along the roadside), and the scenic Wild Atlantic Way winds all the way along the coast of West Cork and continues up the country to the top. Here is Discover Ireland's list of 12 things to do in West Cork, and the tourism site for West Cork

  • Dingle - The Dingle Peninsula is where Irish people go to vacation in Ireland. It's got a very cute small-town, coastal feel but it will get busy on nice days!

  • Connemara National Park - Located in County Galway, Connemara is on my list of places to go. 

  • Killarney National park - Beautiful national park just an hour and a half away from Cork. You can even get here by train from Cork, and the park is easily explored by bike. You can see my photos from Killarney in my Ireland collection here

  • Sligo - Sligo is where Alan's mom is from, and if I'd known about it when I first came to Ireland, this is  where I would have moved to. Sligo has rugged mountains and the ocean, the perfect mix. It is a good drive away from Cork, but the landscape speaks for itself. Sligo is also on the Wild Atlantic Way, if you choose to drive some or all of it.

  • Donegal - Located at the very top of the Republic of Ireland, Donegal is a truly stunning area of the country. It is also the northernmost point of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Where are some cool places to go around Ireland for cultural and sightseeing?

Some spots near Cork worth visiting for a bit of culture: 

  • Blarney (of Blarney Stone fame) - Everyone knows about kissing the Blarney Stone, but did you know that it's so close to Cork, you can take the public bus there (#215) in 45 minutes from the city centre? You can! Blarney Castle is located within the castle grounds and gardens (they also have a Poison Garden) and it costs €20 entrace fee so I would recommend going for the whole day, to enjoy it thoroughly. Nearby (and across from the bus stop) are the Blarney Woolen Mills, so you can also treat yourself to some luxurious knitted Irish sweaters, blankets, scarves, you name it! 

  • Galway - Galway city centre is full of music and art, and it is very cute to visit. you can get here by bus from Cork easily, and t here are plenty of hotels/hostels there to spend the night.

  • Kinsale - Kinsale is accessible from Cork via bus (255) in about an hour, or only 35 minutes by car. Kinsale itself is a super cute seaside village--lots of fun shops, and the whole village is brightly painted--and the beach is also very popular with locals. Recommend to spend a full day here, enjoying the beach, shopping, and dinner.

  • Cobh - Cobh (pronounced "Cove") is the last port from which the Titani set sail. They have a small museum here, but it is better known for its "Deck of Cards" houses which are a row of picturesque, colourful houses that stack up against each other along a very steep hill. Cobh is easily reached by train from Cork's Kent station

(Alan fill out this section more)

How do I get around Ireland?/How do I rent a car here?/Driving etiquette in general.

One of the easiest ways to get around Ireland is by train or public bus. These run more or less on time, and can get you around the majority of the larger cities in the country. Tickets for both train and bus can be purchased online. To get to some more off-the-beaten-path locations, renting a car is recommended! 

There are car rental companies operating out of Cork and Dublin, including straight from the airports. There are always fewer automatics available than stick-shifts, so I would recommend booking in advance!


Car rental companies operating out of Cork airport: 

Of course you can also rent a car from Dublin airport, too:

If you plan on renting a car from the city of Cork, these are some of your options: 

Great Island Car Rentals

Hertz Car Rental

Thrifty Car Rental

Car Rental Cork - Train Station Cork City

Roads and streets in Ireland are much more narrow than in the States, and driving is a bit of a negotiating game. Sometimes you will come to roads that really shouldn't be two-way, and yet they are! There are points along the way where the road has been opened up on both sides to be a little wider, and this is where people pull in to let each other pass. This will really only happen when you're further out in the country--like getting to the farm--but don't be intimidated! Be sure to give a little wave to your fellow drivers when you pass through a tricky bit as it is customary and polite here to do so. 

If you get to a two-way street where there are cars parked on one side but not the other, then the direction of traffic without stopped cars gets the right-of-way.

Oh, and do watch out for sheep on the roads.

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