Cork may be Ireland's second largest city, but thanks to its smallish population, it has the fun atmosphere of a college town. Visitors will be charmed by its plethora of affordable cafés and music venues. Use the city as a base for exploring the nearby castles and grand estates.
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- All that remains of Blarney Castle is the central keep, but visitors flock here to line up and kiss the Blarney Stone and acquire the gift of gab.
- Fota House, located next to a wildlife park, is the ancestral home of the Smith-Barry family. Although the exterior is unadorned, the formal reception rooms are resplendent.
- Originally a farmhouse and family home, Ballymaloe House is an elegant hotel and world-famous restaurant; it is the fountainhead of New Irish cuisine. The food is this-second-fresh and most of the vegetables are grown in the vast gardens.
- The annual music festival at Bantry House serves up top classical-music performances along with sunsets and picnics on the lawn.