Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, behind Dublin. Cork was founded by a man named St. Finbarr in the 6th century, as a monastic settlement. During the 9th century, Vikings established a trading post in Cork and laid the foundations for the city Cork would be become. Cork was then taken over by the Normans in 1173 and began trading with Europe. Cork supposedly gained its nickname as the 'rebel city' during the War of Roses, when several important figures of Cork went to war to overthrow King Henry VII in 1491. Cork was embroiled in conflict and plague for most of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 17th and early 18th century though, there was a large French immigration to Cork. Their influence can still be seen in the names and architecture of Cork today. The port of Cork also expanded, and Cork became a huge exporter of beef and butter. Cork suffered from the famine in the 1840's, and many migrated from the countryside to the city. In the Irish War for Independence, Cork was the sight of heavy violence and much of the city was burned to the ground. More lives were lost and more of the city burned down in the subsequent Civil War that followed. In the latter half of the 1900's, Cork transitioned from a manufacturing city and then went through the economic boom of Ireland, the Celtic Tiger. Today Cork is a vibrant port city and was named the European Capital of Culture in 2005.
Most people use Dublin as their home base when visiting Ireland and other hop from city to city. Your stay in Cork should depend on which of those you are doing. If you are hoping from city to city in Ireland, you will probably only need 2-3 days in Cork. You'll want a good part of a day to visit the nearby Blarney Castle while you're there. You can also visit the Blackrock Castle Observatory and the Fota Island Wildlife Park. There are several museums, including the butter museum if that's your cup of tea, and a 19th century prison you can tour. You'll want a day just to explore and check out the food and shopping scene. If you are using Cork as your main hub for your Irish vacation, you will want at least 10 days to tour and explore.
St. Patrick's Street is the main shopping street of Cork. It was completely revamped in 2004 and is home to many retail stores and some major department stores as well. You can also visit the massive Blarney Woollen Mills for some shopping. There are several shopping malls in Cork as well including the Merchant's Quay on St. Patrick Street, and Mahon Point shopping centre. There is also a farmer’s market near the Mahon Point shopping centre. Cork is well known for its English Market when it comes to shopping. You can find cheesemongers, produce, meats, and other goods here. The English Market is located on Princess Street.
Hotels in Cork usually run from €100–150 per night, during the busy season. Car rentals average about 32 a day and if you want to take a bus to another city, it set you back anywhere from €14-25 depending on your destination. Meals usually cost from €15-30 per person at a sit-down restaurant, café's will usually run from €6-10. A pint of beer is usually in €5-6 range but varies depending on location, wine usually runs €7-8 euro for a 250ml glass. Keep in mind that you will want a healthy budget for shopping and budget for any day trips and admission fees for attractions you plan on seeing.