The English Market is a food market in the centre of Cork City, only a ten minute walk from the hotel. The market is well supported locally and has become a must visit for all tourists, drawing visitors from throughout the world including a visit by Queen Elizabeth II during her 2011 state visit.
There has been a market on the present site since 1788 but the present group of buildings was constructed in the mid-19th century with the ornamental entrance at Princes Street being constructed in 1862 by Sir John Benson. The market changed little over the next century or so until it was seriously damaged by fire on 19 June 1980 and had to be extensively refurbished by Cork City Council and won a Gold Medal from the Europa Nostra heritage foundation for conservation shortly after its completion. The refurbished market suffered a second fire in 1986 but the fire was less damaging than the first.
Since its refurbishment the market has become more multicultural, and a variety of fresh produce from around the world can be bought there. The market is still best known however for its fresh fish and butchers, and it serves many of the city’s top restaurants. It is a source of local specialities such as drisheen, spiced beef, and buttered eggs.
For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.
Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. Today, we are rather more cautious of the safety of our visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence. The Castle, Rock Close Gardens and Lakeland Walk are open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.