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Cooped Up in Cork, Ireland

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I’ve been living in Cork for the past few months.

I’m a Dublin girl, so I’d grown up hearing Corkonians talk about how Cork should be the capital city of Ireland, and how Dublin had robbed Cork of its rightful place as the nation’s most important city… It left me with a somewhat garbled idea of what Cork must be like. After hearing all this chatter, I imagined Cork to be a large, multicultural place on par with Dublin. You know, an actual, geographically alternative capital city.

… And then I moved here.

Cork city is tiny. If I walk so slowly I’m practically going backwards, I can walk from my apartment all the way through the city centre to the other side in twenty minutes. Not only that, but considering it’s the south-west corner of the island, I had always imagined Cork to be positively Mediterranean weather-wise. This is also not the case. In fact as I type this, I’m looking out the window at a flat, grey expanse of cloud that is so low it’s partially obscuring the rooftops of surrounding buildings. It has been raining since last night without pause, and this seems to be the usual way of things in Cork. I never realised Dublin could ever be described as “dry” until I lived here.

I realise all this may sound very negative, so let me assure you that Cork has its positives. The surrounding countryside and all of West Cork is truly beautiful, even with the constant, unrelenting rain. The pubs here are charming, the restaurants are wonderful, and the people here will happily talk your ear off if you stand still for longer than two minutes (the key is to keep moving and look busy).

It’s a city with incredible detail. You can walk down a bland, narrow passageway and look up to find beautiful stained glass, or climb up a raggedy-looking hill and come to a little castle, or drive down a bog-standard country road and find an old viaduct.

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When it comes to food and drink, Cork has you covered. For vegetarians, it has unbeatable options such as Cafe Paradiso – the only high-end vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to – and the Quay Co-op which has every possible vegetarian/vegan product you can imagine. For omnivores the arracy of choice is spectacular, from lunches at Orso to brunches at Liberty Grill to dinners and cocktails at Market Lane and Cask. There are coffee shops on every corner, and there are university students everywhere giving the city a young, slightly alternative vibe.

So on balance, I find Cork city… fine.

It’s fine. It’s okay. When we go out with friends it’s fun, and the rest of the time it’s raining and I’m stuck in the apartment, slowly being driven insane by whoever designed this place.

Really, the apartment is probably the crux of my issues with Cork city.

The place we’re renting here was clearly built with only optics in mind. The block was built before the recession, and is presumably now being rented out until house prices go back up and they can make their money back. Whoever designed it obviously gave a lot of thought as to how it would look in photos, but unfortunately nobody stopped to think about how it would feel to live in it.

When we first moved in, I spent valuable time and energy trying to figure out a way to make it more homely. Eventually I admitted defeat, because no amount of soft woollen throws can soften the angular white walls and black and chrome decor. The hard leather couch could probably just about accomodate half a person … as long as that half a person doesn’t mind sitting on something that gives about the same level of comfort as a window ledge. We don’t have a television, but if we did it would be smack in the centre of the room leaving no space for a dining area. The round table – that we have unceremoniously shunted into the corner – is a glass and chrome monstrosity that shows up every streak and stain on its surface. You never need to use coasters, which is nice, but there is something unsettling about seeing your legs every time you look down at your plate.

Basically, if you want to feel comfortable in this apartment, you need to feel like one of those people who isn’t home long enough to give their house a personality and so rents the furniture from a staging crew. You need half a friend, since that’s all that can be comfortably entertained at one time, and you need to be really into microwaveable meals (the microwave here is a space-age contraption the likes of which I’ve never seen before).

The apartment does come with rack space for 12 wine bottles though, so while apparently the ideal home owner will have no friends, they will have the storage space to accomodate a robust alcohol dependency.

I like my apartments to be cosy. I like the place I’m living to have lots of soft textures and warm colours and preferably a fireplace or a stove. Maybe some twinkly lights. Ideally a pet around the place to snuggle with. This apartment checks none of those boxes. It makes me sad. I hope I can shake off my discomfort for the last few weeks that I’m here and maybe venture out into the rain a bit more… I can’t have seen everything there is to see here!

Still, I doubt I’ll be too sad when it’s time to move back to Dublin.

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In other news, I numbered comments on the last post from 1 – 22 (I didn’t count double comments) and then used Google’s handy dandy random number generator to pick a number and it chose:

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… which if I’m right means Lost Astronomer is the winner of this giveaway. Astroboy, send me on your address (if you’re happy to) and I’ll send you on a little box of randomness!

I’m in a bit of a mood today which is seeping into everything I do so if you can read my grumpy thoughts crawling into this post I apologise. Poor Cork, getting the short end of the stick today! I think I’m going to go bake a cake or something to lift my spirits…..

0 thoughts on “Cooped Up in Cork, Ireland

  1. Ha this is awesome I get to see what presents there are and possibly steal them. Even though I forgot to go back and comment on the blog.

    On a different note cosiness is important in a home! Not sure I could cope with black and white all day long!

      1. I actually just went and looked at a house yesterday that would be the epitome of hygge! Hope to make an offer on it this week. Super excited!!

  2. I do not understand those modern-looking but extremely uncomfortable apartments. One of my co-workers keeps raving about an apartment she wants to move into and it looks like that: shiny and new and soulless. She keeps saying it’s “sooooo nice”. I don’t have the heart to tell her it looks ugly.

    1. RIGHT? Why do people like this kind of thing?? I feel like if I never see a hard, squeaky, black leather couch again it will be too soon.

      ….Also it just makes me think that someone has been wiping bodily fluids off it in the past, because I can’t think of a single other reason for a hard, squeaky, black leather couch.

  3. Hmmmm have to say I love Cork , nice & easy to get around , friendly people , nice shops. It’s my go to place . I’d move if I could there. Now Dublin ….. well …. one word Nope 😉

    1. All of those things are true about Cork – it is nice, it is easy to get around, it does have (very) friendly people, it has nice shops…. But I’m used to wandering from Grafton Street to Henry Street and back again and trawling hundreds of shops on my wanders! I run out of shops here! And I’m not even shopping, just… meandering! I think I’m just used to Dublin and not yet used to Cork. Instead of being happy because there are shops like Vibes & Scribes and the Cork Art Supply Store and Sostrene Grene and awesome places like that, I’m here grumbling because there’s no Zara or Urban Outfitters or proper giant Penneys in the city centre.

      Obviously I’m just being a spoilt brat!

  4. Of the several times I have been to Ireland in all my life, I have yet to go anywhere in Cork, or indeed, the south. I used to think this was a problem until on one trip a few years ago, a bartender from Donegal told me he had been to New York many times, and had never been to Cork in his life. Ever! It is one thing when you only have a week or so vacation, and you have lots of family in one particular place (such is the case with me and Donegal). But it sure was surprising to hear that from someone in Ireland!

    1. A little grumpyness isn’t too bad we all go through it… you made the most of yours. I really enjoyed reading your article and learnt a bit more about Cork. Hopefully that’s something on the bright side. I did imagine the lovely smell of freshly baked cake in your appartment 🙂

    2. Ha! I’ve only been to Donegal once. I really should make more of an effort to see all of our lovely island, but there are some places that just don’t draw me in… I mean I’ve been to Japan, India, Curacao… Miami three (!) times… I definitely need to explore a bit closer to home. It’s hard to use up precious holidays on a place you’re almost guaranteed bad weather though!

      1. I know what you mean. There is a lot to discover here too but I don’t think-lets go to South Carolina or Idaho for example! I have seen a lot of the U.S. but I could definitely do more.

  5. 🙁 I’m sorry to hear the apartment is a bit – cold? Does that sound about right? Perhaps you need a home adult onsie until you move :(.

    I am the same way though, I need cozy and inviting. Critters running the house…Er around the house.

    I also appreciate a bit of grumpiness – we are human after all! Especially after much grey and rain, I am an absolute angry hermit crab? I’m not sure if that’s what I am going for – hopefully you get it !

    I am sending all the love your way! Also some sunshine! ♥️🐾☀️

    1. Yes! It just feels very sterile. I may buy a unicorn onesie to get me through the last while. And I totally agree – Critters can make the coldest home warmer!

      I am also an absolute angry hermit crab sometimes. On days like that I bake something and then I hide in a pillow fort and read a book! Thanks Kat!

      1. You’re welcome my dear! The unicorn onesie is clearly the best option. I did a quick Google search of them and if anyone is sad while wearing one of those!? Nothing will ever make them happy!

        Ah pillow fort. Sigh, I haven’t had one of those in years… On my to do list for today haha. ♥️♥️ Hope your day is going well!!

  6. I loved the post. “If I walk so slowly I’m practically going backwards” really cracked me up. 😀

  7. Ugh, I have a friend who lives in an apartment like that it’s so white and linear it looks clinical! she has OCD too so it’s always spotless! The wine rack sounds awesome though lol!
    Cork sounds like my hometown …it’s alright-ish but it’s not got a patch on Glasgow or Edinburgh, unfortunately I’m stuck here but thankfully all the good places are just 20 minutes away!
    FYI …Dublin is one of my favourite cities!

    1. I’m biased because I grew up there, but on a (rare) sunny day Dublin is just…. so lovely! It’s the cobblestones and the trees and the buildings and the river and… Hahaha!

      I really want to visit Edinburgh. It looks right up my tiny, winding, cobblestoned alley. Thanks!

      1. Haha like here, that one day of summer!

        Stirling (my hometown) has cobbles, trees, a river, even a castle so it’s got the looks but it’s just missing something?! maybe it’s because I grew up here and don’t appreciate it, I don’t know?!? Haha

  8. I sometimes wonder if each location in the world has its own vibe that resonates with some people and is discordant with others. It may explain why some people wax poetic about a place, while others openly wonder why anyone would want to visit, let alone live there. Your experience in Cork reminds me of the years I spent in Elko, Nevada, even though the physical places have next to nothing in common. I could write an entire blog series on how much I want to love that American Wild West “city”, but actually bristle with contempt every time I think about living there. In short, I spent my first few months there trying to make it my home, and then the better part of seven years trying to escape. Throughout that hell, I found lots of things to appreciate — the Western Folklife Center, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (I wasn’t kidding about the “wax poetic” part), the humbling beauty of the Great Basin Desert, and horses everywhere — but my life there was so miserable that I couldn’t enjoy them. I am fascinated by the little details of Cork that you shared here. I’ve never lived in a place with so much history and character. I hope they inspire you to explore more of the “city” during your final weeks, and that you’re able to enjoy them, despite your horrid apartment.

    1. I love horses! See, I probably would have been okay in Elko. I could block out everything else if there were a few horses outside my window! Thanks Unicorn – I’m in a better mood today so I’m reminding myself of all the great things there are in the city!

      1. Then you would have loved that facet of Elko. Even in the town proper, horses were never more than a short walk away. If you ventured into the desert, you might have seen feral Mustangs in the distance, too; they’re very wary and aloof.

  9. Sending you a virtual hug, eat some chocolate and some cakes and cuddle up in bed and watch something on your laptop. 😊 things will seem better tomorrow 💋

    1. It’s a rare occurence but when it happens (usually if I haven’t slept. Or when I have a day like yesterday) I pout a lot and grumble to myself while making myself a pillow fort of seclusion to hide in until the mood passes!

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