County Cork is an essential destination for any tourist visiting Ireland.
With so much to see and do, you could spend weeks exploring all that the county has to offer. But there’s more to Cork than the standard tourist experiences.
Here are five amazing yet ‘non-touristy’ things to do in the Rebel County.
5. Myrtleville Beach
Cork has some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, but some are more famous than others.
A lesser known gem, Myrtleville is a charming seaside town with a secluded sandy beach. Primarily used and loved by locals who own holiday homes in the area, Myrtleville is a summer tradition for many Corkonians and easily accessible, just a half hour’s drive from the city centre.
If the thought of a bracing swim in the Atlantic appeals to you, Myrtleville is undoubtedly the spot – with safe waters almost all year round, it is one of Cork’s most popular open water swimming locations and even has its own swimming club.
Give them a call before visiting to see if you can join one of their regular group swims!
4. Farran Woods
No Corkonian childhood is complete without a summer trip to Farran Woods – approximately 25 minutes west of Cork City on the shore of the stunning Inniscarra Reservoir.
A small woods, there is much to see and do here, from walking trails to suit all fitness levels and abilities, to zip wire aerial experiences for the more adventurous visitor!
And there’s no shortage of nature – the woods are home to red and fallow deer, curious ducks and other birds who enjoy a good picnic (please don’t feed them!) and plenty of fish in the reservoir.
The reservoir is also home to rowers – a popular sport in Cork, you are likely to spot not just amateurs trying out rowing for the first time but Olympians practising for their next big race!
3. Garnish Island
Garnish Island is a rare find. Just off the coast of Glengarriff in beautiful West Cork, the island is best known for its unusual microclimate, owing to its sheltered location and nearby warm gulf stream.
Locals will tell you that it is a slice of the Mediterranean in Cork, and they’re not wrong! With gardens boasting spectacular flora that cannot be found anywhere else in Ireland and higher average temperatures than the rest of the county, Garnish Island is a beautiful place to pass a relaxing summer’s day in Cork.
Ferries to the island operate from Glengarriff a few times a day, and to make the experience even more special, they pass by a seal colony on the way where lucky visitors can watch the seals soak up the sun in one of Ireland’s most unique spots!
2. Stone Corridor, UCC
University College Cork – Munster’s largest and oldest university – is worth a visit for its beautiful campus grounds alone.
However, almost hidden in the West Wing of the campus is something quite amazing – the Stone Corridor.
The corridor displays a collection of Ogham Stones, showcasing the early Irish language (ogham) through markings made on the rock.
These stones are gravestones for people of importance who lived and died in very early medieval Ireland – the Celtic period before the arrival of St Patrick.
Believed to be the first instance of written Irish, the stones were collected in the Victorian era before which they would have scattered the Irish countryside, predominately in the south and southwest of the country.
In a university dedicated to forward-thinking and innovation, it is sobering to pay a visit to Stone Corridor and contemplate Ireland’s ancient linguistic past.
1. The Donkey Sanctuary, Liscarroll
The Donkey Sanctuary is a registered charity which aims to improve the welfare of donkeys and mules across Ireland. Its base in Liscarroll Village, north Cork, is home to beautiful donkeys that can be visited all year round.
The donkeys love the excitement of a visit and enjoy receiving a good fuss by humans.
The sanctuary has a visitor information area but tours of the site can also be arranged in advance. And if you have a bit more time in Cork, why not inquire about volunteering at the sanctuary, helping to care for the donkeys?
If that’s perhaps a bit too hands-on, the sanctuary has a donkey sponsorship scheme, where you can donate to look after a resident and in turn receive regular updates on its welfare.
A fantastic day out for a great cause – what’s not to love?