County Cork is the largest county in Ireland, and its name comes from the capital of the county - Cork (derived from the Irish "Corcaigh", signifying "marsh"), Ireland's second biggest city. There is a great deal of variety in Cork's landscape from mountaineous terrain to glacial valleys, such as Lee Valley and Blackwater Valley, making Cork definitely worth a visit.
The eastern part of the county offers visitors the harbour town of Cobh and the towns of Youghal and Midleton, further east, which are both well-known tourist bases.
Cobh is the town of the famous Saint Colman's Cathedral, but also a town hosting many festivals (The International Folk Dance Festival in July is one of them). While here, the Queenstown Story heritage center is worth seeing.
The tourists that choose Youghal may do so mainly because of the beaches, but also because of its history and the names that are bound to it: Oliver Cromwell, Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spencer, even Gregory Peck, who stayed at the Metropole Hotel while filming "Moby Dick", in this port, in 1956. Youghal became famous due to the Youghal Carpet Factory (as a matter of fact, the carpets in Buckingham Palace were made here!). The 13th century Collegiate Church, the oldest in the country, still provides regular service. The Clocks Gate, finished in 1977, was used as a gallows, and, strangely enough, was inhabited until the 70's.
Midleton, apart from being home to Midleton Distillery, represents a tourist attraction because of its good facilities, good restaurants and good entertainment possibilities.
The towns of Mallow and Fermay, situated in the north of the county, offer high standard facilities as well. However, as far as city variety is concerned, none of the above compares to Cork, a growing cosmopolitan city, where art lovers can get the best of theatre, festivals and music events (The Guinness Jazz Festival, when The Opera House, The Everyman Theatre, The Triskel Arts Centre and The Festival Club at the Metropole Hotel are all given over to jazz), sport fans have games of all types to enjoy during every season - football, soccer, hurling, rugby, racing and night life diversity seekers have excellent restaurants and an active pub & club scene, covering almost everything from live music bars to rave/house clubs or even gay clubs. With most of them situated in the city center, that can be walked around in 20 minutes, it is obvious that they are a point of attraction all year round. Hundreds of local pubs are dotted all over the city and accomodation goes from cheap hotels to the best luxury hotels.
Cork city is a beauty for daytime walking, too; the city center is situated on an island in the River Lee, two Channels of the river, spanned by 16 bridges, embracing it. The city has many fine buildings and churches, and the steep lanes rising from the north and south of the central island offer a wonderful view.
For the ones seeking a more solitary type of experience, the fishing village of Castletownbere, with self catering houses overlooking the harbour is an excellent choice, as well as the Dzogchen Beara retreat center, a Buddhist meditation center that welcomes passers by to visit or even join in sessions; Cape Clear, an island off the south coast, accessible by ferry, is a true birdwatchers' paradise, as few other places in the mainland are.