Within the city there are approximately 1,500 acres (607 ha) of public open space, including major parks such as Fitzgerald Park, Bishop Lucey Park and the Lough, the Municipal Golf Course and other recreational facilities.
Fitzgerald Park was originally the site of the Cork Exhibition, held in 1902/03, a commercial and industrial showcase for the city economy. The grounds were laid out in a part formal, part romantic design with a large pond and fountain as the focus. After the exhibition the grounds were made over to Cork Corporation to be managed for the benefit of the people of Cork. The Park is named after Edward Fitzgerald who was Lord Mayor of Cork 1901 – 1902 and Chairman of the Exhibition Committee of the Incorporated Cork International Exhibition Association.
The park still retains a mix of formality and romance, with trim geometric flower beds contrasting with winding wooded paths - trees slant over a riverbank that is dotted with haphazard plantings of bulbs and herbaceous perennials, while a pristine rose garden is a riot of colour in June and July. The small Arts and Crafts style building, now known as the President and Lord Mayor’s Pavilion, was originally the ladies’ rest room and tea rooms of the Cork Exhibition. Cork Public Museum is situated in the Park in the house known at the time of the Exhibition as ‘The Shrubbery House’, which served as the administrative Centre for the great undertaking. A wing has been added, in cool modern style, to complement the severe Georgian lines of the building. Tucked in between the Museum and the riverbank is a cafe with indoor and outdoor tables, a perfect place to sit and contemplate life.
Scattered through the park are sculptures of the great characters of Cork life including the War of Independence heroes Michael Collins and Tom Barry. Other sculptures, chosen to enhance or provoke, reflect the output of local and national artists over the past five decades. The children’s playground occupies a relatively large proportion of the park’s 18 acres, and is very well attended throughout the year. Parks Department keeps a permanent depot at Fitzgerald Park, which also services various smaller parks on the South of the City.
Just past Fitzgerald Park on the Mardyke Walk a skate park has been provided. Built in 2005, it has proved a popular hang out for the skating population. Use is confined strictly to skate baorders and rollerbladers. Safety is a priority and users are required to wear safety clothing such as helmets, knee and elbow pads and slip resistant footwear.
The 83 acre site at the Lee Fields of the 1932 Irish Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition was given to the corporation in 1933 by an anonymous donor. The Corporation cleared and leveled the site and made of it a large recreational area. An open air swimming pool was constructed in 1934. This is now the site of a hotel.
The Lee Fields and Mardyke area is a virtually continuous riverside open space from a point within half a mile of Patrick Street to open countryside on the western city boundary . The views of the river, the weir and the escarpments opposite are spectacular at any time of the day, and in any weather. One particular attraction is the Shakey Bridge that spans the river from Mardyke to Sundays Well. The name is self-explanatory, but visitors may be assured, it is quite safe.
The Lough is one of Cork’s most striking natural features. Its presence as an amenity to the public is important in an area that has undergone immense urbanization during the last century. Cork Lough is a substantial lake measuring about 350m long by about 180m wide, fed by underground streams. It is situated in a topographical depression in the central park of the Cork valley . The Lough hosts a wide variety of wildlife. It is an important habitat for a large bird population some of which are migratory. Details of the birdlife are posted around the Lough to assist in identification. The Lough is also fished by local anglers, on a strictly catch-and-release basis. As a bio-security measure, to prevent the spread of disease, all those fishing at the lake are required to rinse all nets in one of the rinse bins provided. It is not permitted to feed bread to the birds as it is harmful to their digestive systems and leads to deterioration in water quality for both fish and birds.
According to the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society of October 1893 , the earliest Irish name that could be found relating to The Lough ,Cork was 'Loch-na-fearnog' which translates as 'Lough of the ferns or alders'.
Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) were re-introduced to the Lough in September 2014 by Cork City Council, in partnership with the CSPCA. Two black swan cygnets, a male and female, seven months old, were released onto the Lough on a calm day in September 2014. They were sourced from a breeder in County Leitrim, and were bred at a lakeside location similar to the Lough of Cork, which should make adaptation to their new environment all the easier.
Black swans are monogamous breeders that share incubation and cygnet rearing. The bill is bright red with cobs ( males) being slightly larger than pens( females), cobs also having a longer and straighter bill. Black swans utter a musical bugle like sound and can also whistle! Mature black swans grow to 110- 142cms ( 43- 56ins) and weigh 3.7- 9kg ( 8.2 – 19.8 lbs)
Cork City Council asks the public to be mindful for the welfare of the birds and report any wildlife related issues to the CSPCA @ 021 4515534.
Cloverhill Park is a 5.5 acre public park on the Skehard Road, Mahon. A path network gives a circuit around the park. Mature trees, primarily flowering cherries, were planted to supplement the existing landscape, and perimeter planting of whips and hedging material was included. There is ample green area for a kick-about section, which creates more activity within the park . The existing stone wall bounding the park at Skehard Road was lowered to create a better view into the park, and a new entrance created. The park also has a Bring Site, where the public can recycle their glass and cans .
The Ted McCarthy Golf Course , a municipal 18-hole golf course, has been developed at Mahon and encompasses approximately 110 acres. It is set between Clover Hill and the estuary of the Douglas River and commands a delightful view of Lough Mahon and the gently sloping hills of Rochestown. Ongoing development works have increased the length of the course by 500 yards and brought the par from 68 to 70. This amenity continues to be a success with golfers. Green fees are available and golfing societies are welcome to reserve the tee. Golf clubs and equipment may be hired at the course. A restaurant and bar service is provided in the Blakrock Inn.
This valuable municipal park, situated in Bishopstown, provides good sports facilities and pleasant, extensive walks. It is mainly frequented by users from the immediate locality. The park contains approximately half of what was formerly the Bishopstown Demesne, created during the third and possibly fourth decades of the eighteenth century . Created by Dr. Peter Brown, Bishop of Cork And Ross, and occupied by several of his successors, Bishopstown Demesne is part of an important ecclesiastical tradition which had a major influence in the evolution of the designed landscape in Ireland during the eighteenth century.
The Curraheen River Walk extends from the Curraheen Road near City Boundary along the banks of the Two-Pot and Curraheen Rivers past the rear of the Cork Institute of Technology to the Model Farm Road. From there it passes to the rear of the Tennis Village and exits at the Lee Fields.
Clashduv Park in Togher consists of 13.5 acres of parkland encompassing tennis courts, M.U.G.A. (multi-user games area), a playground, walkways and a playing pitch. Those wishing to play tennis should contact Cork Parks Tennis at www.corkparkstennis.com
The walkway/cycle track extends along the Old Passage Railway line from The Marina at the northern end to Rochestown at the southern end . The distance from the Marina to the Rochestown bridge is 3 kilometers.
A branch of the walk leaves the Railway Line near this bridge and veers eastward towards Lough Mahon skirting the Douglas River estuary for a further two kilometers, returning onto the Skehard Road near Ringmahon Point. There are fine views of the harbour from the coast walk, especially of picturesque Blackrock Castleharbour from the coast walk, especially of picturesque Blackrock Castle.
and the Estuary, which contrasts with the woodland environment of the railway line.
The Atlantic Pond is a public amenity. The pond hosts a large number of aquatic bird species which include swans, mallards, tufted ducks, moor hens, cranes and the odd, more unusual visitor.
This 6 acre park, previously known as Colmcille Park, was re-named in honour of the late Gerry O'Sullivan, City Councillor and Dail Deputy. The park was developed by Cork City Council's Community Employment Scheme and funded by Cork City Partnership Ltd., FÁS and Cork City Council. Originally an under utilized open green field site consisting of a number of utilitarian paths crossing open water-logged greens with some overgrown shrubberies, it has been transformed into a park of the highest design standards, providing the community with a much need facility. The park is enclosed with perimeter railing, has public lighting, park furniture, soft and hard landscape elements, with a children’s playground and a basketball court, so catering to all age groups in this very populous area.
The Glen River Park is a natural river valley of great scenic beauty located in the northern side of Cork City and is regarded as one our finest amenity areas. The narrow, meandering Glen River flows through the valley which in the eastern end is relatively wide with gentle inclined slopes and in the western end is narrow with very steep slopes. The vegetation of the valley varies from gorse, heather, bracken to mixed deciduous trees to grass. These contrasting vegetation and topography types, occurring over relatively short distances, combine to make this an unique amenity area. The wildness is a huge part of its charm and a valuable resource of natural heritage in the City.
Bishop Lucey Park is a popular city centre meeting place for young people at the weekends, and a lunch venue for workers from the surrounding offices during the week. It is adjacent to the Triskel Arts Centre at Christchurch, and there are also a number of coffee bars and restaurants nearby. Situated between the Grand Parade and South Main Street, this park was opened in 1985 as part of the City’s 800th birthday celebrations. Named after Cornelius Lucey, a Bishop and Freeman of Cork (1952-1980), it occupies a previously derelict site . The entrance Archway was reconstructed from the Cork Cornmarket, dating from 1850. The park includes a sculptured fountain of eight bronze swans, representing the 800 years of the city since the Norman City Charter was granted in 1185 A.D (the original monastic settlement was founded earlier, in the 6th c. by St. Fin Barr). In the course of clearance and construction , archaeologists found portions of the early city walls exposed and preserved just inside the entrance.
Shalom Park at Monerea Terrace was developed in 1989. The land for this amenity was kindly donated by Cork Gas Company , who also provided the lighting within the park. The park name commemorates the Cork Jewish community, which originally settled in this area of the city having arrived as refugees. The park contains lawn, seating, bedding and herbacious borders and a children's playground.
Kennedy Park at Victoria Avenue serves both the City Centre and the surrounding residential area. The park consists of 7.5 acres laid out in formal recreational areas and recently upgraded walkways.
Tory Top Park at Tory Top Road is a 7.5 acre park comprising walkways, playing pitch, multi-user games area (soccer and basketball) and a small skate park. The formal section consists of lawns, seasonal bedding areas, walkways, benches and a bandstand. This area has been separated from the rest of the park by planting a beech hedge and additional trees to soften the landscape, so even though the park is used quite intensively the different uses - relaxation, sports, play - do not impinge on one another. There is also a grotto tended by the local people.