5 Things Friday – Co. Cork Facts

Lets head down to Co. Cork for my first ‘5 Things Friday’ blog for 2016 and a very Happy New Year to you! This week I’m heading south to take a look at some interesting places, people and facts about the beautiful Co. Cork.

Population of Co. Cork: 518,128 (2011 Census)

Area: 7,500 Sq. Km (2,900 Sq. mi)

Map of County Cork

Map of County Cork

Co. Cork, often called the ‘Rebel County’ is Ireland’s largest and most southernmost county. It is one of the most picturesque counties in the country, with mountains and lakes galore inland, as well as stunning coastlines. Through my research for Ireland Planner I’ve come across many interesting things about the county I either didn’t know, or had forgotten, not least that 45% of the world’s supply of Tic Tac’s is manufactured in the county. Who knew?! I’ve listed 5 of my favourite facts below. This is not an exclusive list, just things I enjoyed learning or things I think you might find interesting…


5 Things about Co. Cork you might not know!

1. Cork, Croke Park and the Sam Maguire

Croke Park & the Sam Maguire

Dublin’s Croke Park & the Sam Maguire Cup

Dublin’s Croke Park is a stadium and headquarters of the GAA in Ireland and is Europe’s third largest stadium with a capacity of 82,300. It is named in honour of Archbishop Thomas Croke, one of the GAA’s early patrons and the second Archbishop of Auckland, New Zealand. Born in Castlecor, Co. Cork, Croke was also later Archbishop of Cashel and a strong supporter of Irish Nationalism and Gaelic interests throughout his life.

The Sam Maguire cup, awarded to the winners of the annual GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, is named after a footballer from West Cork. A staunch Nationalist, Maguire moved to work in the British Civil Service in London and captained the London Hibernians team to several All-Ireland Finals. He went on to be Chairman of the London GAA County Board. (Incidentally, Vice-Chairman was Liam MacCarthy, who gives his name to the MacCarthy Senior Hurling Championship Cup. Although born in London, MacCarthy’s parents were also from Cork!).

Maguire was responsible for recruiting Michael Collins to the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was one of his right-hand men for many years. Having moved back to West Cork and working for the Irish Civil Service, he was sacked from his job because of his political opinions and his connections to the Anti-Treaty forces. Sadly, Maguire died alone and penniless from TB at the age of 49 in 1927. The Sam Maguire Cup was inaugurated in 1928 and first won by Kildare who beat Cavan 2-6 to 2-5 in that year’s All-Ireland Final.

2. A cow in a cable car?

The Dursey Island Cable Car

The Dursey Island Cable Car in Co. Cork

In operation since 1969, the Dursey Island Cable Car is Ireland’s only cable car and one of the only cable cars to traverse open waters in all of Europe! Gliding high across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound off the Western tip of the Beara Peninsula in South West Cork is a unique experience and one not to be missed as far as I’m concerned. Another bonus, Islanders still use the cable car as their main mode of transport, so you may well have to share the car with some local livestock, does it get any better, and more uniquely Irish than that? I think not.

Dursey Island itself is an untouched gem for walking or picnicking. But be sure to bring supplies if you are staying for a few hours, there are no shops/hotels/public transport or the likes on the island. In fact, the island only has about 6 – 8 year-round residents. This is off-grid in the truest sense of the word. Also, some local etiquette, it seems locals have dibs on getting on, and the earlier you go the better, as they limit the amount in the afternoon to get everybody back to the mainland by evening. Highly recommended, especially for those interested in hillwalking and birdwatching, or solitude.

3. From Ireland’s Teardrop to the Big Apple

The Annie Moore Statue, Cobh

The Annie Moore Statue in Cobh

From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, over 6 million Irish men, women and children emigrated from Ireland for a better life. Over 2.5 million emigrants left from Cobh (then called Queenstown) in Cork Harbour alone, also the final stopping point for the doomed Titanic liner which sank in 1912. Due to the levels of mass emigration from Cork, Fastnet Rock, a small islet 8 miles off its coast, became known as ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’ as it was the last part of Ireland the emigrants saw as they sailed for North America.

One such emigrant was a young girl called Annie Moore. Annie is of note as she was the first immigrant to the United States to be processed through Ellis Island on January 1st 1892. Annie was just 17 years old, while her brothers were 15 and 12 respectively. They sailed on December 20th 1891 and were processed in New York on New Year’s Day 1892. Annie went on to live a happy but short life in America, having a good Irish family of 11 children before her death in 1924. A poignant statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers Anthony and Phillip sits in Cobh Harbour today and the song ‘Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears’, written by Brendan Graham, tells her story.

4. The world’s largest butter market & 1,000 year old butter!

The Cork Butter Museum

The Cork Butter Museum in Shandon

Cork City was once home to the world’s largest butter market! Dating from 1849, the International Butter Exchange was located in the Shandon area of the city and during the 19th Century it was the largest butter exporter in the world, sending Cork-produced butter to far-flung shores in India, Australia and beyond. The building is now home to the Cork Butter Museum, which details the history of butter production in the city as well as the wider domestic, social and commercial history of Ireland. There are also butter-making demonstrations for visitors to enjoy and a container of a one thousand year old medieval bog butter on display! A common practice in Northern Europe was to pack butter into barrels and bury it in peat bogs, sometimes for years. The bog butter would strengthen in flavour as it aged but it was still edible due to the antiseptic and cool environment of the bog. This may well be the case, but I think I’ll pass on trying it! The museum is open on weekends from November – February and daily for the rest of the year.

5. The Cork Man, the fridge and the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York

James J. Wood was born in Kinsale, Co. Cork in 1856. He emigrated with his family to Connecticut in the United States as a young boy and began working for a lock company there at age 11. He thereafter began working for the Brady Manufacturing Company in Brooklyn New York in 1874 and thus would begin an extraordinary career. An accomplished electrical engineer, he held over 240 patents in his lifetime (not far behind Thomas Edison!) which saw him have a hand in the development of lock making, the invention of the modern submarine and the refrigerator as well as the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

His first patent in 1880 was for the Arc Light Dynamo and he installed the first floodlights at the Statue of Liberty. He also designed the electrics for the engine of John Holland’s submarine and the machinery that would construct the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1890, Woods’ company was purchased by Fort Wayne Electrical Corporation which later became part of the General Electric Company and Wood went on to become an integral part of the corporation. He was a major influence in the creation of General Electric’s refrigerator and went on to hold the patent for the electric fan. He bore an incredible talent for conceiving of inventions, patenting them, creating them and then managing their introduction to the marketplace through General Electric and remains to this day one of the most prolific inventors in modern history!

So there you have it for another edition ‘5 Things Friday’. Some of my favourite ‘interesting things’ about lovely Co. Cork. There are many more as I say, but I’ll save those for another day. Please feel free to comment below or share the blog with your friends.

Happy Irish Travels in 2016



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