Cork City Break with Kids
With no holiday abroad planned, and very little planning done for anything else really, a GAA fixture lead us to Cork for our holidays in Summer 2017. The match, played in the newly reopened Páirc Uí Chaoimh was the main attraction (but we lost!) and anything else was a bonus. Of course many, many others had the same idea so accommodation was scarce, and the fact that the Munster Fleadh was on in the city the same weekend didn’t help.
So, what was our family city break in Cork like?
Where we stayed
We found a family room in Commons Inn, outside the city on the Mallow Road near Blackpool, to be the only family room available in the city that night, so we booked two nights there and our summer adventure began. The hotel itself is more a motel than a destination, it’s on the dual carriageway and really is somewhere to overnight before an early morning ferry, rather than to spend a city break. That said, our room was large and comfortable, with 2 double and one single beds, there was ample parking and there was a bar with food on site. The first room we were given smelled of drains and didn’t have enough beds and after a little confusion we were given the correct room, which thankfully smelled fine. Breakfast was a highlight, the kids adore hotel breakfasts and this one didn’t disappoint (well not til the pastries ran out). A continental buffet with a very nice fresh fruit salad and good brown bread was provided and hot breakfasts were available to order. We ate in the bar on the night we arrived and it was perfectly fine bar food and service was fast. While the location or the facilities wouldn’t draw me back, the hotel served its purpose for us and I would return if we needed a bed for the night.
What we did
We were in Cork on one of the hottest days of the summer so our first port of call was Fitzgerald’s Park. The Park is beautiful, there’s an excellent playground, although the design drove me barmy, there’s a huge castle in the middle which divides it, so once your child climbs up YOU CANNOT SEE THEM. Fine for older kids, but for smaller ones it requires a lot of helicopter parenting.
We played hurling (losing only one sliotar in a ditch) and checked out the fountains, after a walk along the river crossing the Shakey Bridge.
After seeing Cork Public Museum and it being closed because it was a Monday Cathal was very eager to go back the next day, so we did. I ducked into UCC to buy a parking disc and was blown away by the beauty of the campus, it’s a long time since I went there for an Open Day visit!
It’s a good introductory sized museum for kids, with relics from all elements of Irish history. When we were there there was an impressive WW1 trench exhibition and a traveller life exhibition upstairs. Our GAA mad eldest was disappointed that the GAA exhibition which we could see was closed to the public.
No visit to Cork City is complete without a traipse around the English Market, such a hive of activity and den of temptation, if it’s good enough for the Queen to visit it’s good enough for us, although we went there LONG before she ever did. We ate in the Farmgate restaurant upstairs and enjoyed excellent soup, chowder and brown bread in a lovely setting.
Where we ate
Nowhere fancy! We had lunch in Nandos on Sunday and dinner in the hotel. We had coffee and ice-cream at a cafe between UCC and Fitzgerald’s Park and we had lunch in the Farmgate Café in the English Market which was really good, get the chowder and brown bread, the kids asked for seconds of both!
Soba chinese in Blackpool.The food in Soba worked out great, the kids really loved their ramen, the surroundings are more takeaway than sit down restaurants but sometimes that works perfectly for overtired and too hungry kids whose parents should have fed them sooner!
What else is there for kids to do in Cork ?
Blackrock Castle Observatory – We haven’t been but this is on our list for our next Cork trip https://www.bco.ie/kids/ (€18 for 2 adults and 2 kids)
Fota Wildlife Park is the obvious answer, it makes a great day out, bring a picnic food options on site aren’t great.
Titanic Cobh Experience – We’ve yet to visit but hear great things , if based in Cork city you could take the train.
Spike Island – won a European Tourism Award last year so comes with excellent pedigree- tickets €49 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. We have’t been.
Blarney Castle – I’ve been and thought it was very overpriced (€40 online discounted rate for a family of 2 adults and 2 children – a visit to Fota would be €48 and the kids would get so much more out of it) unless you are going to spend the day in the gardens, I wouldn’t recommend for a family day out.
Head West… We love West Cork and have spent time in Clonakilty and Kinsale in the past, so in 2017 our West Cork adventures were based in Bantry, coming soon in another post.