Highlights of County Cork

County Cork is the largest county in Ireland and therefore has plenty to see. The best way to maximise your opportunities to explore is to hire a car upon arrival at Cork Airport. Even still, the chances are you won’t get around everywhere, so here are the highlights that should not be missed.

The coastline

The scenery is what makes Ireland a wonderful place to visit and the coastline in Cork is particularly special. Be sure to visit this rugged landscape and experience for yourself the inlets, coves, beaches and harbours dotted along its length.

From here you have the chance to head out to sea to go whale or bird watching, island hopping or enjoying several types of water sport. A more relaxed approach is to sit on the quayside and each fresh crab – either way, it is delightful.

The cable car from the Beara Peninsula

The stunning Beara Peninsula is a fascinating place associated with myriad myths and legends, as well as being the site of some major archaeological finds. From here you can hop aboard the only cable car in the whole of Ireland.

Its uniqueness does not stop there, as this amazing method of transportation actually takes you out 250 metres over the sea to Dursey Island. Keeps your eyes peeled as you travel through the air, because you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to see dolphins in the water below or sea birds flying past.

Once on the island, have a look around, visiting the three small villages and the 200-year-old ruins of O’Sullivan Beara’s castle. From here you get views of the Skelligs, Mizen Head and a number of standing stones.

The heritage town of Youghal

Whether it was the Vikings, Normans or even the English, the town of Youghal has seen plenty of invaders throughout the centuries and is proud of its very colourful history. Find out all about it by following the Youghal Heritage Trail – just pick up a map from the visitors’ centre.

For an insight into domestic history, head to the Fox’s Lane Folk Museum, where a fully furnished Irish kitchen from 100 years ago has been recreated among the exhibits. There are all manner of antiquated gadgets to look at too.

These include manually operated vacuum cleaners, washing machines, sewing machines, the Edison Phonograph, early gramophones, telephones, typewriters and radios.

Going further back into the past is St Mary’s Collegiate Church and Gardens, where parishioners have worshipped for 1,300 years. It is in fact one of the oldest Christian sites in the whole of Ireland.

The gift of the gab at Blarney Castle

When travelling to a place it can be tempting to dismiss places or traditions as clichéd, but it can also be fun to embrace them and get involved. The latter is certainly encouraged when it comes to kissing a lump of rock at Blarney Castle.

People have been carrying out this bizarre ritual for centuries and is said to endow all those that do with the famous Irish gift of the gab. Get a friend to hold onto your legs as you dangle from the battlements of the 15th-centry castle and pucker up.

It is said that Queen Elizabeth I coined the phrase ‘to talk blarney’, as Lord Blarney insistently talked his way out of meeting her demands. Does that sound like anyone you know?