County Cork

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County Cork
Contae Chorcaí
Coat of arms of County Cork
The Rebel County
Location of County Cork
Dáil ÉireannCork East
Cork North-Central
Cork North-West
Cork South-Central
Cork South-West
EU ParliamentSouth
County townCork
 • TypeCounty Council
(incl. city) [2][3]
 • Total7,500 km2 (2,900 sq mi)
Area rank1st
Highest elevation706 m (2,316 ft)
 • Total542,868
 • Rank3rd
 • Density72/km2 (190/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
P12, P14, P17, P24, P25, P31, P32, P36, P43, P47, P51, P56, P61, P67, P72, P75, P81, P85, T12, T23, T34, T45, T56 (primarily)
Telephone area codes02x, 063 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code
Pulleen Strand, on the Beara peninsula

County Cork (Irish: Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and the southernmost county of Ireland, situated in the province of Munster and named after the city of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. Its largest market towns are Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, and Skibbereen. As of 2016 the county had a population of 542,868, making it the third-most populous county in Ireland.[4][5] The Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Notable Corkonians include Michael Collins, Jack Lynch, and Sonia O'Sullivan.

Cork borders four other counties: Kerry to the west, Limerick to the north, Tipperary to the north-east and Waterford to the east. The county contains a section of the Golden Vale pastureland that stretches from Kanturk in the north to Allihies in the south. The south-west region, including West Cork, is one of Ireland's main tourist destinations,[6] known for its rugged coast and megalithic monuments and as the starting point for the Wild Atlantic Way. The largest third-level institution is University College Cork, founded in 1845, has a total student population of around 22,000.[7] Local industry and employers include technology company Dell EMC, the European headquarters of Apple, and the farmer-owned dairy co-operative Dairygold.

The county is known as the "rebel county", a name given to it by King Henry VII of England for its support, in a futile attempt at a rebellion in 1491, of Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

Political subdivisions[edit]

Cork is the largest county in Ireland by land area, and the largest of Munster's six counties by population and area. At the last census in 2016, Cork city stood at 125,657.[4] The population of the entire county is 542,868[4][5] making it the state's second-most populous county and the third-most populous county on the island of Ireland. The remit of Cork County Council includes some suburbs of the city not within the area of Cork City Council.

Two local authorities have remits that collectively encompass the geographic area of the county and city of Cork. The county, excluding Cork city, is administered by Cork County Council, while the city is administered separately by Cork City Council. Both city and county are part of the South-West Region. For standardized European statistical purposes, both Cork County Council and Cork City Council rank equally as first-level local administrative units of the NUTS 3 South-West Region. The Republic of Ireland contains thirty-four such LAU 1 entities.

For elections to Dáil Éireann, the county is divided into five constituencies—Cork East, Cork North-Central, Cork North-West, Cork South-Central and Cork South-West. Together they return 18 deputies (TDs) to the Dáil. The county is part of the South constituency for the purposes of European elections.


Wedge tomb, Glantane East

County Cork is located in the province of Munster, bordering Kerry to the west, Limerick to the north, Tipperary to the north-east and Waterford to the east. The county shares separate mountainous borders with Tipperary and Kerry. The terrain on the Kerry border was formed between 360 and 374 million years ago, as part of the rising of the MacGillycuddy's Reeks and Caha Mountains mountains ranges. This occurred during the Devonian period when Ireland was part of a larger continental landmass and located south of the equator.[8][9] The region's topography of peaks and valleys are characterised by steep ridges formed during the Hercynian period of folding and mountain formation some 300 million years ago.[8]


Twenty-four historic baronies are in the county—the most of any county in Ireland. While baronies continue to be officially defined units, they are no longer used for many administrative purposes. Their official status is illustrated by Placenames Orders made since 2003, where official Irish names of baronies are listed.

Civil parishes and townlands[edit]

The county has 253 civil parishes.[10] Townlands are the smallest officially defined geographical divisions in Ireland, with about 5447 townlands in the county.

Mountains and upland habitats[edit]

The Beara pass, through the Slieve Miskish mountains

The county's mountain rose during a period mountain formation some 374-360 million years ago and include the Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains on the Beara Peninsula, the Ballyhoura Mountains on the border with Limerick and the Shehy Mountains which contain Knockboy (706 m), the highest point in Cork. The Shehy Mountains are on the border with Kerry and may be accessed from the area known as Priests Leap, near the village of Coomhola. The upland areas of the Ballyhoura, Boggeragh, Derrynasaggart, and Mullaghareirk Mountain ranges add to the range of habitats found in the county. Important habitats in the uplands include blanket bog, heath, glacial lakes, and upland grasslands. Cork has the 13th-highest county peak in Ireland.

Rivers and lakes[edit]

Upper lake at Three Castle Head, Mizen Head

Three rivers, the Bandon, Blackwater, and Lee, and their valleys dominate central Cork.[original research?] Habitats of the valleys and floodplains include woodlands, marshes, fens, and species-rich limestone grasslands. The River Bandon flows through several towns, including Dunmanway to the west of the town of Bandon before draining into Kinsale Harbour on the south coast. Cork's sea loughs include Lough Hyne and Lough Mahon, and the county also has many small lakes. An area has formed where the River Lee breaks into a network of channels weaving through a series of wooded islands. About 85 hectares of swamp are around Cork's wooded area. The Environmental Protection Agency carried out a survey of surface waters in County Cork between 1995 and 1997, which identified 125 rivers and 32 lakes covered by the regulations.

Land and forestry[edit]

Like many parts of Munster, Cork has fertile agricultural land and many bog and peatlands. Cork has around 74,000 hectares of peatlands, which amount to 9.8% of the county's total land area. Cork has the highest share of the national forest area, with around 90,020 ha (222,400 acres) of forest and woodland area, constituting 11.6% of the national total and approximately 12% of Cork's land area.[11] It is home to one of the last remaining pieces of native woodland in Ireland and Europe.[12]

Mizen Head is the most south-westerly point of both Cork and Ireland.


The hooded crow, Corvus cornix is a common bird, particularly in areas nearer the coast. Due to this bird's ability to (rarely) prey upon small lambs, the gun clubs of Cork County have killed many of these birds in modern times.[13] A collection of the marine algae was housed in the herbarium of the botany department of the University College Cork.[14] Parts of the South West coastline are hotspots for sightings of rare birds, with Cape Clear being a prime location for bird watching.[15][16] The island is also home to one of only a few gannet colonies around Ireland and the UK. The coastline of Cork is sometimes associated with whale watching, with some sightings of fin whales, basking sharks, pilot whales, minke whales, and other species.[17][18][19]


Cork has a mountainous and flat landscape with many beaches and sea cliffs along its coast. The southwest of Ireland is known for its peninsulas and some in Cork include the Beara Peninsula, Sheep's Head, Mizen Head, and Brow Head. Brow Head is the most southerly point of mainland Ireland. There are many islands off the coast of the county, in particular, off West Cork. Carbery's Hundred Isles are the islands around Long Island Bay and Roaringwater Bay.

Fastnet Rock lies in the Atlantic Ocean 11.3 km south of mainland Ireland, making it the most southerly point of Ireland. Many notable islands lie off Cork, including Bere, Great Island, Sherkin, and Cape Clear. With an estimated 1,199 km (745 mi) of coastline, Cork is one of three counties which claims to have the longest coastline in Ireland, alongside Mayo and Donegal.[20][21][22] Cork is also one of just three counties to border two bodies of water - the Celtic Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Average high sea temperature in County Cork[23][24]
Cork Harbour (Celtic Sea) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Sea Temperature 11.4 °C (52.5 °F) 10.7 °C (51.3 °F) 10.5 °C (50.9 °F) 12.2 °C (54.0 °F) 12.9 °C (55.2 °F) 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) 17.9 °C (64.2 °F) 17.4 °C (63.3 °F) 16.0 °C (60.8 °F) 13.7 °C (56.7 °F) 12.3 °C (54.1 °F) 14.1 °C (57.4 °F)
Bantry (Atlantic Ocean) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Sea Temperature 11.6 °C (52.9 °F) 11.2 °C (52.2 °F) 11.0 °C (51.8 °F) 12.1 °C (53.8 °F) 12.8 °C (55.0 °F) 15.6 °C (60.1 °F) 17.6 °C (63.7 °F) 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) 17.3 °C (63.1 °F) 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) 13.8 °C (56.8 °F) 12.2 °C (54.0 °F) 14.0 °C (57.2 °F)


The county is colloquially referred to as "The Rebel County", although uniquely Cork does not have an official motto. This name has 15th-century origins, but from the 20th century the name has been more commonly attributed to the prominent role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) when it was the scene of considerable fighting. In addition, it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922–23). Much of what is now county Cork was once part of the Kingdom of Deas Mumhan (South Munster), anglicised as "Desmond", ruled by the MacCarthy Mór dynasty. After the Norman invasion in the 12th century, the McCarthy clan were pushed westward into what is now West Cork and County Kerry. Dunlough Castle, standing just north of Mizen Head, is one of the oldest castles in Ireland (A.D. 1207). The north and east of Cork were taken by the Hiberno-Norman FitzGerald dynasty, who became the Earls of Desmond. Cork City was given an English Royal Charter in 1318 and for many centuries was an outpost for Old English culture. The Fitzgerald Desmond dynasty was destroyed in the Desmond Rebellions of 1569–1573 and 1579–1583. Much of county Cork was devastated in the fighting, particularly in the Second Desmond Rebellion. In the aftermath, much of Cork was colonised by English settlers in the Plantation of Munster.[citation needed]

15th century drawing of Perkin Warbeck

In 1491 Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne who spread the story that he was really Richard of Shrewsbury (one of the Princes in the Tower), landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow King Henry VII of England. The Cork people supported Warbeck because he was Flemish and not English; Cork was the only county in Ireland to join the fight. The mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England, but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. Cork's nickname of the 'rebel county' (and Cork city's of the 'rebel city') originates in these events.[26][27]

In 1601 the decisive Battle of Kinsale took place in County Cork, which was to lead to English domination of Ireland for centuries. Kinsale had been the scene of a landing of Spanish troops to help Irish rebels in the Nine Years' War (1594–1603). When this force was defeated, the rebel hopes for victory in the war were all but ended. County Cork was officially created by a division of the older County Desmond in 1606.

Michael Collins, photographed in 1919

In the 19th century, Cork was a centre for the Fenians and for the constitutional nationalism of the Irish Parliamentary Party, from 1910 that of the All-for-Ireland Party. The county was a hotbed of guerrilla activity during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). Three Cork Brigades of the Irish Republican Army operated in the county and another in the city. Prominent actions included the Kilmichael Ambush in November 1920 and the Crossbarry Ambush in March 1921. The activity of IRA flying columns, such as the one under Tom Barry in west Cork, was popularised in the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley. On 11 December 1920, Cork City centre was gutted by fires started by the Black and Tans in reprisal for IRA attacks. Over 300 buildings were destroyed; many other towns and villages around the county, including Fermoy, suffered a similar fate.[28]

During the Irish Civil War (1922–23), most of the IRA units in Cork sided against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. From July to August 1922 they held the city and county as part of the so-called Munster Republic. However, Cork was taken by troops of the Irish Free State in August 1922 in the Irish Free State offensive, which included both overland and seaborne attacks. For the remainder of the war, the county saw sporadic guerrilla fighting until the Anti-Treaty side called a ceasefire and dumped their arms in May 1923. Michael Collins, a key figure in the War of Independence, was born near Clonakilty and assassinated during the civil war in Béal na Bláth, both in west Cork.

Irish language[edit]

County Cork has two Gaeltacht areas where the Irish language is the primary medium of everyday speech. These are Múscraí (Muskerry) in the north of the county, especially the villages of Cill Na Martra (Kilnamartyra), Baile Bhúirne (Ballyvourney), Cúil Aodha (Coolea), Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary), and Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear Island).

There are 14,829 Irish language speakers in County Cork, with 3,660 native speakers in the Cork Gaeltacht. In addition, in 2011 there were 6,273 pupils attending the 21 Gaelscoileanna and six Gaelcholáistí all across the county.[29] According to the Irish Census 2006, there are 4,896 people in the county who identify themselves as being daily Irish speakers outside of the education system. Ballingeary is a centre for Irish language tuition, with a summer school, Coláiste na Mumhan, or the College of Munster.[citation needed]


The song "The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee" is traditionally associated with the county. It is sometimes heard at GAA and other sports fixtures involving the county.[30]


Several media publications are printed and distributed in County Cork. These include the Irish Examiner (formerly the Cork Examiner) and its sister publication The Echo (formerly the Evening Echo). Local and regional newspapers include the Carrigdhoun, the Cork Independent, The Corkman, the Mallow Star, the Douglas Post, the East Cork Journal and The Southern Star.[31][32] Local radio stations include Cork's 96FM and dual-franchise C103, Red FM, and a number of community radio stations, such as CRY 104.0FM.[33]

Places of interest[edit]

Tourist sites include the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Blarney.[34] The port of Cobh in County Cork was the point of embarkation for many Irish emigrants travelling to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa or the United States. Cobh (at the time named 'Queenstown') was the last stop of the RMS Titanic before it departed on its fated journey.

Fota Wildlife Park, on Fota Island, is also a tourist attraction.[34] Nearby is Fota House and Gardens and the Fota Golf Club and Resort; a European Tour standard golf course which hosted the Irish Open in 2001, 2002 and 2014.[citation needed]

West Cork is known for its rugged natural environment, beaches and social atmosphere, and is a common destination for British, German, French and Dutch tourists.[citation needed]


The South-West region, comprising counties Cork and Kerry, contributes 24,877 million (US$39.3 billion) (2005 values; 2008 exchange rate) towards the Irish GDP.[38] The harbour area to the immediate east of the city is home to many pharmaceutical and medical companies. Mahon Point Shopping Centre is Cork's largest, and Munster's second-largest, shopping centre; it contains over 75 stores including a retail park.

The Golden Vale is among the most productive farmland for dairy in Ireland. The chief milk processor is Dairygold, a farmer-owned co-operative based in Mitchelstown, which processes 1.4 billion liters a year, converting the milk into cheeses and powder dairy nutritionals for infant formula.[39]


Leading population centres
Rank City/Town Population (2016)[40]
Halla na Cathrach i gCorcaigh.jpg
(County Capital)Cobh.jpg
1 Cork 208,669
2 Ballincollig 18,621[41]
3 Carrigaline 15,770
4 Cobh 12,800
5 Midleton 12,496
6 Mallow 12,459
7 Youghal 7,963
8 Bandon 6,957
9 Fermoy 6,585
10 Blarney & Tower 6,014
11 Passage West 5,843
12 Kinsale 5,281
13 Carrigtwohill 5,080
14 Clonakilty 4,592

Cork city, the only city in the county, is the second-most populous city in the Republic of Ireland with a population of 210,000 after the Cork boundary extension in 2019. Cork is also the third-most populous city on the island of Ireland. According to the 2006 census statistics, the county has 11 towns with a population of over 4,000. The county has a population density of 72 persons/km2. A large percentage of the population lives in urban areas.

As of the 2011 census, ethnically the population included 85% white Irish people, 9% other white people, 1% black, 1% Asian, 1% other races, and 1% not stated.[42] Catholicism is the main religion at 87%, with other religions at 7%, 5% of people stating that they had no religion, and 1% not stated.[42]


Cork's main transport is serviced from:


Common surnames in the county include Barry, Buckley, Callaghan, Connell, Connor, Crowley, Lynch, McCarthy, Murphy, O'Leary, O'Sullivan, Sheehan, Walsh, and Fitzgerald (the latter with a Norman derivation).[43][44][45]


  1. ^ "What's your Irish County? County Cork". 14 October 2016.
  2. ^ Local Government Arrangements in Cork - The Report of the Cork Local Government Committee (September 2015), section 2.1
  3. ^ "Stats Facts about your County - Cork". Central Statistics Office. Archived from the original on 14 November 2011. Area (Source: Ordnance Survey) / 749,995 Hectares
  4. ^ a b c d e "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Cork City". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Cork County". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Ireland's most popular tourist counties and attractions have been revealed". 23 July 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017. the southwest, comprising Cork and Kerry, has the second-largest spend by tourists [after the Dublin region]
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Bourke et al. 2011, p. 3.
  9. ^ Site Management Plan.
  10. ^ "Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved January 21, 2012". 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  11. ^ "National Forestry Inventory, Third Cycle 2017". DAFM.
  12. ^ Baraniuk, Chris. "What would a truly wild Ireland look like?". Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  13. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix,, ed, N. Stromberg Archived 26 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Cullinane, J.P., Phycology of the South Coast of Ireland. University College Cork, 1973
  15. ^ "Cape Clear Island: a birdwatching bonanza". Lonely Planet. 20 September 2019.
  16. ^ Ireland, BirdWatch. "Cape Clear Bird Observatory". Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  17. ^ Whooley, Pádraig. "Wild waters: the lesser-known life of whales and dolphins along the Irish coastline". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  18. ^ Fáilte Ireland. "Whale Watching & Dolphin Watching in Ireland – Wild Atlantic Way". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  19. ^ Jones, Calvin (23 August 2016). "How to watch whales and dolphins – whalewatching tips and advice". Ireland's Wildlife. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Irish Coastal Habitats: A Study of Impacts on Designated Conservation Areas" (PDF). Heritage Council. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Mayo County Council Climate Adaptation Strategy" (PDF). Mayo County Council. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Managing the Donegal Coast in the Twenty-first Century" (PDF). Institute of Technology, Sligo. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Bantry Average Sea Temperature". Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  24. ^ "Cork Average Sea Temperature". Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  25. ^ for post 1821 figures 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865 For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see JJ Lee "On the accuracy of the pre-famine Irish censuses" in Irish Population Economy and Society edited by JM Goldstrom and LA Clarkson (1981) p54 in and also New Developments in Irish Population History 1700–1850 by Joel Mokyr and Cormac Ó Gráda in The Economic History Review New Series Vol. 37 No. 4 (November 1984) pp. 473–488.
  26. ^ "If not for collins, why is it called the rebel county?". Irish Independent. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  27. ^ O'Shea, Joe (21 May 2019). "Why is Cork called the Rebel County?". Cork Beo. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  28. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  29. ^ "Oideachas Trí Mheán na Gaeilge in Éirinn sa Ghalltacht 2010–2011" (PDF) (in Irish). 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  30. ^ "". 27 August 2009. Archived from the original on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  31. ^ "Regional Newspaper Circulation". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  32. ^ "Media Monitoring Analysis and Evaluation Brochure". Nimms Ltd. April 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  33. ^ "List of TV and Radio Stations". Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Fota and Blarney are Cork's top attractions". The Corkman. Independent News & Media. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  35. ^ Bracken & Riain-Raedel 2006, p. 47.
  36. ^ "Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Celtic studies, history, linguistics and literature". The Academy, 1970. p. 93
  37. ^ Keohane 2020, p. 451.
  38. ^ "Cork / Kerry GDP" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2011.
  39. ^ "Dairygold opens €85m facility at Mallow headquarters". RTÉ. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Population Density and Area Size 2016". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  41. ^ "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Electoral Division Ballincollig". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  42. ^ a b "County Cork (CSO Area Code CTY 18)". Census 2011. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  43. ^ "Popular Cork surnames and families". Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  44. ^ "CORK". John Grenham. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  45. ^ "Cork". Retrieved 26 June 2018.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°58′N 8°35′W / 51.967°N 8.583°W / 51.967; -8.583