Cork audio tour: Highlights of Cork: The Rebel City on the River Lee

Highlights of Cork: The Rebel City on the River Lee

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Dive into the fascinating history of Cork on a stroll from its port on the River Lee, through the bustling city centre. On this walking tour, you’ll see just how apt the nickname “The Rebel City” is, as I tell you about the events and the colourful characters that gave the city its decidedly contrarian streak. After all, Cork was built by wealthy merchants who made their fortunes first from trading, and later by filling top civic positions.

You’ll see the city’s top sights as well as some often overlooked areas where a marshy landscape was transformed into the vibrant city that Cork is today. On this walk between the two main channels of the River Lee, I’ll point out the buildings, eateries and public spaces that give this city its special charm. Being situated on the edge of a huge natural harbour has given Cork an international, as well as an Irish dimension. You’ll detect this mixture of influences everywhere in the city, which people from all over have made their home.

Highlights on this tour include:

• Popping by the hotel where famous Irish statesman Michael Collins spent his last night on earth
• Finding out why the city once had the world’s largest butter exchange
• Uncovering the mystery of the many French-sounding surnames across Ireland
• Learning the meaning behind the phrase “doing Pana”

I’ll point out some of the best spots to relax by the river, grab a pint of the city’s finest porter, and people watch from one of its many cafes. Give yourself at least an hour to get the most out of this tour, and your time here.

Tour Producer


Máirín Ahern

When I left my home in Dublin during my 20s, my plan was to travel and see the world. Cork was my first stop but because it offered me a colourful, cosmopolitan, and culturally rich life, I never went any further.

Being officially a “blow-in” as I was not born here, I now believe I can claim to be an honorary Corkonian, having lived here for 40 years! I have spent all my life so far in the realms of travel and tourism, and qualified as a Cork Tourist Guide in 1999. Much has changed and continues to change in Cork since then, and I enjoy spending as much time as possible in the City Centre just to keep abreast of what is new and different.

Major Landmarks

  • South Mall

  • Grand Parade

  • Huguenot Quarter

  • Crawford Art Gallery

  • English Market

Directions to Starting Point

The tour starts at De Valera bridge, opposite the Port of Cork Company HQ , at the junction of Lapps Quay and the N27. This is just a short distance from Parnell Place, from where there is access to the Merchants' Quay multi-storey carpark. The inter-City bus terminus is also at Parnell Place, while a number of local bus services operate in the area.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There will be many opportunities to stop for food, coffee (or something stronger!), or just for a short rest on this tour. Don't resist the temptation to do so whenever you feel like it; as we say in Ireland, when God made time, he made plenty of it! It is worth having a look inside the English Market and the Crawford Art Gallery if time permits.

Best time of day

Any time but ideally starting between 1030 - 1530 to allow for optional stops at the Market and Art Gallery. The English Market is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.


Comfortable walking shoes. Use pedestrian lights when crossing streets wherever possible. (Take the same precautions as you would in any City).


Loved this tour! Lots of excellent content that is extremely current (post-COVID). It was a privilege to learn so much about the great city of Cork.

Posted by Leo , about 2 months ago
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Highlights of Cork: The Rebel City on the River Lee