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Cork, known as ‘the rebel city’, has faced its fair share of adversity throughout its long history. Much of its oldest architecture dates back only as far as the 19th century, but many of these structures were built to take the place of earlier destroyed versions, some through acts of war. For this reason, a tour of the city’s finest buildings reveals not just the city’s beauty, but also its untiring will to survive.
Cork is a university city, and the world-class college to the west of the urban centre is the site of some of its finest architecture. First founded as one of Ireland’s three Queen’s Collegesin 1845, University College Cork (UCC) was designed by Benjamin Woodward and Thomas Deane – the duo behind the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Museum building at Dublin’s Trinity College. The university’s limestone main quadrangle, constructed between 1847 and 1849, is in the Tudor-gothic style of medieval universities such as the UK’s Oxford and Cambridge.
The site of Blackrock Castle was first a fort, built in 1582 in order to protect the harbour city from pirates and others who may have meant it harm. It later became a castle, and separate fires damaged the tower and then the entire castle – the most recent renovations took place in 1829 under prolific architect brothers George and James Pain. Currently in use as an observatory, their design pays homage to and contains parts of the original 16th-century structure.
According to a 2015 book about the building, the original design for the Catholic Holy Trinity Church on Father Mathew Quay was yet another work of George Pain, although construction went on for decades, and the project ended up having multiple authors. The result is a towering gothic revival edifice, known for its steep spire and decorative carvings. Inside, the church features a stained-glass window by the renowned stained-glass artist Harry Clarke.