The Emerald Isle only legalized sodomy in 1993 and Irish partygoers are still sowing their oats.
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Cork article click DailyXtraTravel
Ireland's second city
Ireland's second largest city is situated on the banks of the River Lee in the south of the County Cork. This was originally a port town built on canals and river channels that are now filled in. Cork is more laid-back than Dublin, and has a large artistic community, with music, dance, theater, and visual arts in abundance. The gay scene is small but tight-knit and the divisions and cliques of larger cities are absent here, with ages and genders mixing more freely. It's been a more old-fashioned, less "out" gay community with
an underground, tucked-out-of-sight feel.
As gay people are more open and visible, the general public pubs and nightclubs have become gay-friendlier of late. Then too, within this past year two of the busiest gay clubs, Instinct and Flux, have closed their doors.
Now more than just gay-friendly Chambers Bar (Washington Street across from Courthouse) looks like an old haberdashery store, with mannequins and patterns around. During the day they do sell new and used clothes including designed labels at low prices, with alterations done on-site. At night it's a very popular club with a mix of DJs playing a wide variety of music. On Mondays through Thursdays they're student-friendly, then 23-plus for (not gay) Fridays and (gay) Saturdays. On Wednesdays the guys from Ruby's do Sinners gay party at Chambers.
Freakscene at the Qube (Oliver Plunket Street) is a Wednesday alternative and gay-friendly club night getting started around midnight. There's dancing upstairs to indie/alternative and soul, funk, motown, and R&B downstairs.
Loafers (26 Douglas Street), Ireland's oldest gay pub, changed owners and had major renovations recently. With a mix of "the lads and the ladies" they feature DJ music, two pool tables, a heated beer garden, and all major events are shown on their big screen.
The Other Place (7-8 Augustine Street), a late cafe and bar run by the Gay Community Center, has hot and cold snacks five day of the week and special-event weekend club nights.
The Roundy Bar (1 Castle St) is a lively spot within old walls for morning coffee or trendy mixed-crowd nights with many speciality beers, a broad range of music, and Sunday night live acoustic sets.
Ruby's Nightclub has Cork's newest gay party. Each Friday on Hanover Street (you can't miss it) they have the biggest gay dance event in town for an 18-plus, mostly male crowd.
Cork Sauna (36 Lower John Street) is the local tubs. It's hard to find, but being the only such place in town, it's quite popular despite the minimal creature comforts.
Down on the coast just to the south of Cork, the
Bulman (Summercove, Kinsale) is a gay-friendly 200-year-old pub and Mediterranean/Asian restaurant. Their tables overlook a peaceful scene of the sea and boats in the harbor.
Cafe Depeche (North Main St and Lancaster Quay) is an espresso bar with a fine quality and selection of coffee not previously available hereabouts.
Cafe Paradiso (16 Lancaster Quay) is a vegetarian restaurant with a lively atmosphere and food to tempt even the most skeptical meat-eater.
The Liberty Grill (32 Washington St) near the courthouse, serves breakfast, brunch and lunch from 8am to 5pm, plus evening meals, American and International style, until 9pm.
Grub Cafe at the Other Place (8 North Mall) is at the Cork Gay Community Development Project which moved recently. They serve a healthy selection of soup, panini, wraps, crepes, beverages, and breakfast, and provide free internet access for customers.
Quay Co-op (26 Sullivan's Quay), a workers' cooperative vegetarian and vegan restaurant, is oft cited as Cork's best of its genre. They have a wide variety of meals (from snacks to three-course) and organic wines; also they serve breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon. Their organic and whole food store and bakery downstairs sells supplements, herbal remedies, and essential oils.
Events and information
Useful local websites include: Gaycork.com, with directories and an online gay map; Gayprojectcork.com; and Peoplesrepublicofcork.com.
Alternative Miss Ireland takes place in February. "Contestants must be special and their allure must be of a rarer sort," say promoters, and the winner goes to Dublin for the Miss Alternative Ireland contest.
Cork Gay Pride activities span a week as May slides into June each year. See Corkpride.com for details on next years celebrations.
Outlook is the local gay and lesbian film festival. It's a part of Murphy's Cork Film Festival, the biggest of its kind in Ireland.
Emerson House (2 Clarence Terrace) is a year-round bed and breakfast not far from the train station, with
en suite rooms and wi-fi internet access from 40 euros per person (sharing).
Clarion Hotel (Lapps Quay) is a large modern hotel with 160 rooms and a gay-friendly bar called Kudos.
Jury's Inn (Anderson's Quay) at the heart of Cork overlooking the River Lee is within walking distance of all major businesses, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and cultural attractions of the city.