Cork - The Rebel County, or the "real capital of Ireland" as the locals call it
Cork City is Ireland's third city (after Dublin and Belfast) and has always been an important seaport. It began on an island in the swampy estuary of the River Lee (the name Corcaigh means a marsh), and gradually climbed up the steep banks on either side.
Today the river flows through Cork city in two main channels, so that you find yourself constantly crossing bridges and hence Cork City's coat of arms bears the motto 'A Safe Harbour for Ships'.
Some of the main streets are built over channels where ships nuzzled their anchor-chains a century ago. Along the South Mall, you will see large gateways at street level, under steps leading to a higher main door. These were once boathouses, when merchants arrived at their warehouses by water. As the hilly streets go up and down, so do the voices of the citizens. They have a characteristic sing-song cadence, beloved of national comedians, and Corkonians are regarded as the most talkative of all the Irish.
The best way to see the city of Cork and sample the flavour of its life, is to walk. There is a signpost Walking Tour, so get the accompanying booklet and set off to explore the hilly streets and meet the people.
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