48 Hours in East Cork

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Explore the harbours, mountains, islands and peninsulas of beautiful East Cork for a true taste of Ireland's Ancient East. It's an epic landscape rich in stunning scenery and maritime heritage – but in just 48 hours, you can cover a lot of ground. Take a tour of discovery through this magical region.

Youghal

There's no better place to start than the seaside heritage town of Youghal (pronounced 'Yawl'). Its quaint atmosphere and glorious stretch of golden beach provide the perfect introduction to East Cork.


Youghal Clock Gate Tower
Occupying the former site of Trinity Castle – one of the five principal fortifications of the late 14th/15th-century walled town – stands Youghal Clock Gate Tower. Built in 1777 as a gaol, its story spans seven hundred years of history. Once closed to the public, this iconic building has reopened its doors – this time not as a grim prison, but instead as a place to explore the tales of its fascinating past.

St Mary’s Collegiate Church & Garden
For history buffs, this garden – complete with ancient Graveyard Trail – is a must-see. First appearing on maps in 1590, it's located beneath Youghal's almost 1,000-year-old medieval walls. The church is one of Ireland's most ancient Christian sites, and the oldest church in the country with continuous worship since the 13th century. Home to a monastic settlement of St Declan of Ardmore in the 5th century, it's a peaceful landmark that yields an afternoon's worth of discovery.

Guided Tours of Olde Youghal
Take a step back in time to experience historic Youghal with a trained Youghal Tourism Development Guide. This walking tour, which lasts for 90 minutes, takes in the medieval streets of the town, Tyntes Castle, St Mary's Collegiate Church and many more landmarks of interest.

Youghal Clock Gate Tower
St Mary's Collegiate Church
An altar inside St Mary's Collegiate Church
Left: Youghal Clock Gate Tower | Middle: St Mary's Collegiate Church | Right: An altar inside St Mary's

You've investigated the town of Youghal, delving into historic landmarks and wandering its picturesque streets. Time to go further afield – an evening stroll along its sandy beaches is the perfect way to round off your day.

Midleton

A bustling market town, Midleton thrums with delicious local produce and farm-grown fare. Tasty restaurants sit alongside cosy pubs, and in easy reach lie beaches and lakes, a destination for adventure-seekers and anglers.

Farmgate Restaurant & Country Store
In 1983, Maróg O'Brien first established Farmgate in Midleton as a small food shop, specialising in local, seasonal, and fresh produce (and ten years later, Maróg’s sister Kay went on to open the Farmgate Café in the English Market, Cork). The original Midleton location is an ideal spot for lunch after wandering through the surrounding heritage-infused streets.

Midleton Farmers Market
Meet the producers at Midleton Farmers Market (held every Saturday), one of the original country markets. It sells fresh local produce, homemade cakes and breads, and attracts local musicians who create a lively atmosphere – tasting events are also held here throughout the year.

The Jameson Experience (Midleton Distillery)
On the banks of the Dungourney River stands Jameson’s Old Midleton Distillery. Set on 15 green acres, the distillery is home to the Jameson Experience, an Irish whiskey tour that explores the history behind this legendary spirit.
Buyers at the Midleton Farmers Market
A copper pot still at The Jameson Experience
Left: Browsing the delights of Midleton Farmers Market | Right: A copper pot still at The Jameson Experience

Cobh

No visit to East Cork would be complete without a visit to the colourful town of Cobh. Previously known as Queenstown, Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic which departed these shores in 1912. A host of visitor attractions pay homage to the town's Maritime heritage and tradition of emigration through the famine years.

The town is lined with brightly-coloured houses, many crowded onto the steep slope of a hill. Crowning it all is the imposing Saint Colman's Cathedral, a grandiose neo-Gothic building that took 47 years to build.

Don't rush through Cobh – there's so much here to make you linger. If you're short on time, take a day trip with the Cork/Cobh excursions by train. Disembark at the train station and join one of three tours: the Titanic Trail, Titanic Insights, or the Cobh Cultural excursions.

Cobh Heritage Centre – The Emigration & Maritime Story
The Emigration & Maritime Story is a dramatic exhibition on the origins, history and legacy of Cobh. Located within Cobh Heritage Centre, it tells stories designed to bring the Irish emigration experience and The Great Famine to life, and highlight Cobh's strong connections with some of the world’s most famous ships – the Sirius (first steamship to cross the Atlantic), the Lusitania, and of course, the Titanic.

Titanic Experience Cobh
The story of the Titanic has captured the hearts and minds of millions. From descendants of crew and passengers, to those who are simply fascinated, the story has been re-told from Belfast to Hollywood. At Titanic Experience Cobh, visitors can explore the stories of the Titanic through interactive displays and audio visual tours, and find out what happened to the 123 passengers who boarded the famous White Star Line liner in Cobh – one of them young Jeremiah Burke, writer of the last written message ever to leave the ship.
 
Spike Island
Nestled in Cork's natural harbour, Spike Island has a dark and fascinating past. Uncover the stories of its inhabitants – from monks to military, and convicts to idolised rebels – and explore the 200-year-old Fort Mitchel, a star-shaped fortress that once contained thousands of prisoners. Reach the island from Cobh by boat.

Saint Colman's Cathedral towering over Cobh
Annie Moore statue in Cobh
Antique gun in Fort Mitchel, Spike Island
Left: Saint Colman's Cathedral | Middle: Annie Moore statue in Cobh | Right: An antique gun in Fort Mitchel, Spike Island

While you’re in the area…

Cobh Farmers Market
If you fancy some fresh foods and local East Cork produce, visit Cobh Farmers Market for a browse. You'll also find a variety of international streetfood to savour and a selection of handcrafted wares to choose from. It takes place every Friday from 10am-2pm, along the promenade in Cobh.

Spot a cruise liner
A favourite activity for Cobh insiders is to climb the hills of the town on a day that sees the arrival of a cruise liner into the dock. From Saint Colman's Cathedral you'll get a sense of the impressive scale of these oceangoing beasts; afterwards, tour the cathedral.

Ballymaloe House and Estate
Sample some of Ireland's finest food at the renowned Ballymaloe House restaurant, or learn how to cook some of the Allen family's famous recipes in the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Have a wander around the walled gardens and parklands or buy some yummy Ballymaloe relish, crafts or cookery books in the gift shop. 

Ballycotton Lighthouse Tours
The lantern was first lit back in 1851, and 141 years later the last lighthouse keeper left the island due to the lighthouse's automation. Now – weather permitting – you can make landfall, climb the original iron staircase and enjoy the same incredible views from the lantern balcony that only a lighthouse keeper could have experienced before.

Town walls, Youghal
Sunset at Cobh Harbour
Left: The town walls of Youghal, the perfect introduction to East Cork | Right: Sunset at Cobh Harbour

If time permits

Fota Wildlife Park
Home to animals and birds from five continents and hundreds of native plants, trees and species found in Ireland, Fota is no ordinary wildlife park. The animals thrive in a free-range environment, which allows them to roam free (where possible), while mixing with other species and with visitors too – resulting in a memorable experience.

East Cork attractions


And that’s just a sample, there’s so much more to do on your visit to Cork.

Enjoy your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section