In Praise of East Cork. Well Worth a Visit!

In Praise of East Cork. 
Well Worth a Visit!

Friendly people, great food, attractions, on land and sea, both natural and man-made, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Fota House Gardens and Arboretum, with Barryscourt Castle in between, all free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Cliff walk (and lighthouse in distance) at Ballycotton

Let me take you on a trip to see part of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top notch restaurants including Barnabrow  (ideal for a Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.


Coming from the city on the main Cork-Waterford road, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast at Bramley Lodge.  Now, set up for the morning, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.

If you have kids, go the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum  and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House. If you like it around here, you may also try the high class  Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort.

Sailing ship at Cobh, exactly where the liners dock in summer.
Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge and you find yourself on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Gallery, walking tours (including the Titanic Trail and Spike Island), harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations  and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania. Cruise liners now call here regularly during the season, with a carnival atmosphere in the town on the days they are in port.

Time now to head out of the islands, maybe call to the Bakestone Cafe at Ballyseedy (Cobh Cross) for a tasty bite to eat before heading east for Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in Whiskey!
Roche's Point, worth a detour.
You may have lunch at the distillery cafe here. Quite a few others to choose from but I have a particular in Kevin Ahern's Sage and his amazing 12-mile menu.

There will be detours, of course. One that I like is off the Whitegate road, out of Midleton. Look out for the signs for East Ferry and enjoy a walk by the estuary and maybe reward yourself with a well cooked meal at Murph’s, a restaurant with a lovely view.
Next stop though is Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world renowned cooking. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens and call to the cafe for a mid afternoon or mid morning  coffee. The cafe at the Stephen Pearse pottery in Shanagarry is now gaining quite a reputation.
Youghal has many miles of beaches. Many more all along the East Cork coast.
In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go. If you feel you need to stretch the legs, then there is a spectacular walk along the cliff tops. After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Pier 26.
Time now for dinner. If heading back towards the city and make a stop at the estuary village of Glounthaune and the Rising Tide Bar Bistro. Enjoy your meal here, as Lady Gaga did, and take time for a deserved pint in the bar afterwards. If heading east, then you’ll find a lovely cafe called Sage or a fine seafood meal at Aherne’s, both in Youghal. Maybe you'd like to rest up for the night and have a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on the main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar.
Fresh fish at Ballycotton's Pier 26