The Blarney house in Cork, Ireland
Don't leave the region without getting up close and personal with the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, located eight kilometers northwest of Cork. Legend has it, if you literally bend over backwards to kiss the stone, you'll gain the gift of eloquence.
The gaol in Cork's old city
Going to prison is usually a bad thing, but Cork City Gaol (the Celtic spelling for "jail") is the exception. The castle-like building once housed 19th century prisoners. It closed in 1923 to become a broadcasting station and reopened as a museum in 1993. Today, you can tour the cells and see the artifacts of early radio broadcasting.
Take the short, scenic ferry ride from Cobh to Spike Island — named the top European tourist attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards — and explore Fort Mitchel. Over 200 years old, the star-shaped fortress previously held 2,300 prisoners. For brave souls, the island even offers After Dark tours.
Visit the local artisans selling their fresh produce at English Market in Cork, where trading has been happening since 1788. You'll find artisan cheese and bread, locally raised meats, fresh produce and seafood. Then, head to a traditional restaurant on Oliver Plunkett street for a classic dinner of fish and chips or lamb stew with potatoes and vegetables.
St. Patrick's Street in the city center is Cork's main shopping district to see with your Ireland cruise. You'll find modern pop-ups like Wild Design, which offers ethically made handicrafts and jewelry. Traditional Irish stores like Kilkenny Shop specialize in everything from pottery to home decor. The common theme here is high-quality, Irish-made goods.
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