Honeycombed by an intricate network of underground tunnels, it took 500 men 40 years to build the moat at
. Over 400 years later, this strategic defence fort still stands proudly on the craggy Crosshaven coast, atop a panoramic view of one of the world's largest natural harbours: Cork.
A quick drive in to the city brings you past Café Paradiso (voted TripAdvisor's best restaurant in Ireland) and on to the castle-like exterior of Cork City Gaol. Before its closure, prisoners here ranged from Countess Markievicz to Mary Tucker – a woman arrested simply for the use of "obscene language". The gaol contains some fascinating stories, including that of 40 intrepid men who escaped by climbing down their bedsheets in the dead of night... At the gaol, you'll also find the Radio Museum, complete with the microphone used by John F Kennedy on his 1963 visit to Ireland. Next, is the highlight of many a trip to Cork: the English Market. A myriad of smells envelops you as you enter what Rick Stein calls the "best covered market in the UK and Ireland". Fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, artisanal cheeses, chocolate, meat and even vintage clothing make this an eclectic dream – not to mention the array of fish, of course, freshly caught from the sea.
If you have more time:
Stroll down Cornmarket Street, known locally as the Coal Quay. Once one of the River Lee's winding channels, it's now covered over and today remains home to a number of street traders. A highlight is the lovely Bodega Bar and Restaurant, converted from St Peter's traditional covered market.