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About Cork

The inhabitants of Cork, Ireland's second city with a population of more than 136,000, are known for their strong sense of civic pride. While visitors from Dublin and other European capitals might find Cork a small, drowsy city, to Corkonians it is a place of enormous importance.

The old city of Cork was founded by St Finbar in the 6th century. The name Corcaigh means “marshy place” in Irish. While the marshes are long gone, the city is still well-endowed with waterways. The city centre stands on a island between two branches of the River Lee. First impressions are of a confusing number of bridges and quays. Its medieval buildings have long gone, and the fabric of today's Cork dates mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. The centre is flat, but to the north of the River Lee an escarpment rises up so steeply that many streets have steps cut into their pavements.

Cork was at its most affluent in the 18th century, when its butter market was a source of vast wealth. Much of the best domestic architecture as seen in the South Mall, Grand Parade and the North Mall dates from this period. Cork has retained the sober air of a merchants' city, and new industry in the form of multinational chemical plants and other high-tech industries have replaced heavier industries, such as car assembly and shipbuilding. Cork may lack the youthful energy that characterises Galway City and Dublin's Temple Bar, but it has a gentle, old-fashioned charm of its own.


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