Cork’s Alternative Tourist Trail
Off the Beaten Track in Cork
While Cork has plenty of well-trodden tourist attractions, there’s lots to explore off the beaten track too. From ancient stone calendars to Ireland’s version of Alcatraz, we take a tour of the county’s most unusual attractions.
Kindred Spirits Sculpture
This is a rather poignant monument to the remarkable generosity the Choctaw Nation showed the Irish people during the famine. In 1847 the Native Americans raised $170 – equivalents to tens of thousands of dollars today – to buy food for Irish people affected by the famine. The sculpture features 9 stainless steel feathers, shaped into an empty bowl; a fitting tribute to a selfless act generations ago.
Where: Bailick Park, Midleton
Knocknakilla Stone Circle
This fascinating site comprises a stone circle, a radial cairn and two portal stones, which were erected to serve as a sort of calendar for local farmers. The complex is estimated to be more than 3,500 years old, and is a beautiful reminder of how we lived thousands of years ago.
Where: Between Macroom and Millstreet
Possibly the most satisfying building in Ireland, this white washed conical beacon is just so, well, perfect. Perched on the West Cork coast, overlooking the crashing Atlantic waves below, it formed part of an early warning system against sea borne invaders, part of a chain of similar lighthouses along the coast. These days it’s something of a tourist favourite, its location on the edge of Baltimore Harbour making it perfect for those sunset shots.
Spike Island, just off the coast of Cobh, was once home to a prison housing some of Ireland’s most dangerous prisoners, and indeed was considered Ireland’s Alcatraz – at one time in the mid 1800s, it was the biggest prison in the British Empire. The prison only closed in 1985, and now there’s daily tours: we recommend the After Dark tour which is particularly eerie.
Where: Spike Island, Cobh
Located on a very picturesque setting on the North Mall in the centre of Cork, Boole House is a recently restored property that was home to George Boole, regarded as the father of ‘pure mathematics’ and whose work Alan Turing used to develop the first digital computer in the 1930s. After many years of disrepair, it’s been renovated and will soon be used as an incubator for start-ups; something Mr Boole would no doubt approve of.
Where: 5 Grenville Place
Looking for more recommendations? Ask our front desk team for the inside scoop on where to see, what pubs to visit and what to do across the county!