Running in Munster and Cork, Ireland | Where to go and what to eat
Going back to the place where you studied abroad is a unique experience. While in college, I lived in Cork, Ireland for five months. It was a life-changing experience. It’s where I met several of my best friends including the best man in my wedding. The trip was so special to me and I will never forget my time there. When a cheap plane ticket surfaced to visit Ireland in the offseason, I told Alicia there was no way we were missing this opportunity.
Funny enough, I was nervous to show my wife my old stomping grounds. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect during our trip, this little city was so special to me. Running in Munster–that’s the region where Cork is–epitomizes why we started this blog. We both were training for a marathon and knew we had to stay active–on a European vacation no less– and get our miles in so we did not get injured before the marathon.
This run was very unique, Cork is such a small city that planning for 9 miles took some creativity. We started by going through University College Cork’s campus and down Western Road into the heart of the city.
We also made sure to take a quick stop by St. Finbar’s church. It is an incredibly beautiful place, a hidden gem in Ireland. This run was able to hit on so many nostalgic points from my time abroad. We made sure to run over to where by friends used to live by the River Lee so I could show Alicia where we spent so many of our nights.
Important tip for these long runs: do some research before you go! Alicia and I knew we wanted to make sure to get the best Shepard’s Pie in Cork–yes stereotypical Irish cuisine but we like it–and found out that the supposed best place was the Farmgate Restaurant on top of The English Market.
Since we knew this, we were able to plan our run to finish at the market and get some much needed Irish cuisine. And this Shepard’s Pie did not disappoint! It was the best we had on our trip. We also got an incredible cheese plate that we saved and snacked on during our long bus ride to The Cliffs of Moher the next day. Runs like this are so special, I was able to show my unique experience in Ireland while also allowing Alicia to get a better feel for a new city.
Cork is a city that not many people visit when they go to Ireland. It has so much culture and has that quintessential Irish feel to it. Most people brush it off and talk about Dublin, Galway, or even London, but this city is special. The charming old folks at the pub that always say hello, or the endless rolling green hills on the outskirts of town. We stayed in B&B’s on Western Road–cheapest option in Cork–in order to allow ourselves to splurge on food.
Ireland gets an incredibly bad reputation for its cuisine, everyone assumes it is all bland meat and potatoes everywhere you go. In reality, it has a rapidly growing food scene with a heavy emphasis on fresh ingredients. The English Market–as mentioned above–is a great place for fresh local produce and The Farmgate Restaurant is an excellent choice for lunch. Jackie Lennox’s has incredibly crispy, flakey, vinegary, and delicious fish and chips. Paradiso has fantastic and elegant vegetarian food–you do not miss the meat at all! Don’t forget about the Irish pubs, there are traditional Irish pubs sprinkled throughout the entire downtown, some like An Spainpin Fanach have traditional Irish music every night. So pull up a chair, order a pint of Beamish, and start up a conversation with a friendly stranger!
Route: total mileage 8.6 miles
Western Road B&B: All of Cork is somewhat smoggy–just the way the city is–but this street is especially heavy with traffic
University College Cork: Gorgeous campus with wide walking paths making it easy to run even when it is a busy college day. Make sure to run through the main quad, UCC has a famous building that looks like an old Irish castle!
St. Finbar’s Church: A beautiful little Irish church, we stopped in because it was so pretty. Definite must see.
River Lee: The City Centre in Cork is surrounded by the River Lee, very pretty but this is a small city so it can have more traffic than you would like for a pleasant run
City Streets: Cork has three main roads, Grand Parade, Saint Patrick, and Oliver Plunkett. Oliver Plunkett is more of a pub scene while Saint Patrick and Grand Parade are more shopping heavy. A little busy to run through but manageable.
The English Market: A great place to finish a run, lots of local vendors and the Farmgate Restaurant on top of the market is one of the best restaurants in the city. Not fancy either so no worries eating in your running clothes!
Don’t forget to check out the map below! Running in Munster and specificially in Cork is not an easy task. This map has all of the relevant view points and restaurants during our time in Cork. Did we miss anything? Let us know!