Cork, at the head of Cork Harbour on the south west coast is Ireland's second city. Located on two branches of the River Lee, and originally islets in the great marsh of Munster, Cork is a city of bridges with main streets that were once waterways. Cork's history began in the 7th century with the founding of a monastery by St. Finbarr on a small island in the River Lee, where St. Finbarr's Cathedral now stands. The monastery and the settlement, which grew around it, flourished in spite of several Danish raids, and later were incorporated in the fortified base the Danes developed here. After King Henry II arrived in Ireland in 1172, the town was several times captured, recovered and retaken, with the English and the Irish alternating as its masters. In 1284 it was surrounded by a new circuit of walls which were pulled down in 1690 after four centuries of war and destruction. During the Civil War in 1921, large areas of the city were damaged by fire.
As a result of this history of war and destruction, Cork has no medieval buildings left but boasts a few remains from the 18th century. In addition, the central area between the two arms of the river takes its architectural character from the churches and other buildings of the early 19th century. Places of interest include the Crawford Art Gallery, the Custom House, the City Market building and Queen's Old Castle on Grand Parade. Outside the city centre you will find St Anne's Church and the Bells of Shandon and the City Gaol, recreating the squalid living conditions of 19th century prisoners.
From here you can also visit Blarney Castle (Blarney Stone), Kinsale, Killarney, Gun Powder Mills andMuckross House. And Gardens Other attractions in the area include Millstreet Country Park and the Jameson Heritage Centre.
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