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A Cork History

The founding of Cork is surrounded in mystery & folklore, suffice it to say only the keenest eye will determine fact from fiction.

The City itself formerly known as Corcach Mor na Mumhan or the Great Marsh of Munster (Munster being the province in which Cork is situated) was founded sometime in the early 7th century by St Finbarr – the city’s patron saint – (he hailed from a place called Gougane Barra which is approximately 50KM’s west of Cork City and well worth visiting for its scenic walks)

To find out what brought him from the peace & solitude of Gougane Barra to the bright lights of Cork we must go back to an epic battle held previously between the good saint himself and a creature called the Luiwee. The Luiwee was a fire breathing, slimy creature with ferocious claws that lived in the lake in Gougane Barra who used to come out to eat the local people & their cattle. Well Finbarr decided it was time for a show down (the gunfight at the OK Corral – Irish style) and ordered the beast to sling its hook and ‘Begone’. Of course the beast said not a chance and battle ensued. Unfortunately the beast didn’t know he was taking on a future saint and didn’t really stand a chance. That said the fight did go on for 5 days & 5 nights until Finbarr finally won the day. The Luiwee left the lake and as he slid down the Lee Valley towards the ocean he gouged out the two river channels you see to this very day.

Of course every mythical story needs a happy ending. Well Finbarr followed the Luiwee to ensure he was gone for good and having seen the great marsh, the surrounding hills, woodlands and the general beauty of the area decided this was a place in which he could settle and so he founded a monastery and Cork was born.

Then till now…..

Cork starts off peacefully & prospers until the Vikings arrive (not very nice people) and they burn & pillage but ultimately settle here and build a wooden fort.

Next to come were the Anglo Normans with their chain mail and crossbows and do what the Vikings did burn & pillage, meet some nice local girls and ultimately stay.

After that though came the bad stuff. Plagues, floods, fire and pestilence and worst of all the Black Death of the 14th century and here Cork really suffered.

Finally the English came (they heard about the music, the craic and the beer made in Cork) with Elizabeth and Cromwell (apparently he was an awful singer and wasn’t much fun either) and they more or less stayed through various stages of peace and rebellion until the1930’s.

In fact Cork’s nickname of The Rebel County came about for Cork’s support of the House of York during the War of The Roses and subsequent support of the usurper to the crown Perkin Warbeck. (unfortunately, we were never too good at backing a winner, House of York lost the war, Perkin lost his life and Cork suffered again!!). Thankfully a bit of good fortune finally came our way with Cork prospering during the 19th century through international trade but suffered again during the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War in 1921/22 particularly when the City Centre was burned to the ground by the Black & Tans (British army irregulars).

But all that’s behind us and the city has matured and prospered beyond all recognition in recent years through a vibrant cultural scene, great music, beautiful scenery and a love of the ‘Black Stuff’…. Murphy’s & Beamish Stout of course.

So we encourage you to come explore and see some of what makes Cork City & County such a great place to live and holiday in.

Come, Make Cork Yours.

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