The Crawford Art Gallery is housed in Cork’s former Custom House – an imposing red-brick structure erected in 1724 and a welcome juxtaposition to the modern glass façade of Cork Opera House next door. The building has been augmented many times since, with the most recent extension in 2000 – designed by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat – bringing an additional exhibition wing for modern art. The impressive permanent collection gives a visual insight into themes that trace the city’s biography, from the life of a ‘merchant prince’ in 18th-century Cork to famine and emigration. Check for upcoming rotating exhibitions before you visit.
Crawford Art Gallery, Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland +353 21 480 5042
Cork City Gaol is a sombre and moving museum experience. Although only a 30-minute walk from the city centre, the gaol is enveloped in tranquil and generous grounds. The austere stone structure first opened in 1824 and operated as a prison for 100 years. Countess Markievicz – the first woman elected to the British Parliament, although she did not take her seat – was incarcerated here in 1919 during the Irish War of Independence. The museum is incredibly informative, with the history of incarceration here contextualised within the wider historical and political context. Details of the everyday routes and routines of the prisoners and preserved signatures on the wall enrich the emotional resonance of the experience.
The imposing Georgian property that now houses the Cork Public Museum was originally built in 1845 by the Beamish family – of brewing fame and fortune – in an area then termed ‘the shrubberies’. In the grounds of the sprawling Fitzgerald Park, this building was purchased by the city corporation for the Cork International Exhibition in 1902 and 1903. The museum holds an impressively diverse range of artefacts, from aesthetics including Cork silver and 18th-century costumes to a rich selection of displays on different aspects of the Irish resistance and path to independence. Visit the museum’s café to take advantage of exceptional views onto the River Lee.
Mardyke, Cork, Ireland +353 21 427 0679
Overlooking the waterworks weir on the River Lee, the Old Cork Waterworks supplied water to the city for centuries but is now home to the Lifetime Lab – an interactive museum experience focused on science and technology. Built from alternating Cork red sandstone and grey limestone, this Victorian building and tapered square tower have now been lovingly restored. Kids will love the exhibits, as well as summer camps and LEGO workshops hosted here as a means of engaging their interest in how the world around them works, and how they can be part of improving it.
Sunday’s Well, Lee Road, Cork, Ireland +353 21 494 1500
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