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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Opinion: 9 reasons Cork is cooler than Dublin right now

Dublin may be the Manhattan of Ireland, but Cork is its Brooklyn.

Steve Collins

THE REAL CAPITAL is following in Berlin’s footsteps to become a thriving cultural hub as artists, investors and, yes, hipsters flock there – lured by cheap rents, a decent standard of living and laid-back way of life.

Dublin may be the Manhattan of Ireland, but Cork is its Brooklyn, offering more scene than green to the cool set.

Sorry Dublin, we don’t make the rules, we just apply them. You can’t touch this.

1. Low Rents

From the city centre to the suburbs and beyond, Cork is a sane voice in a nation obsessed with property. It’s still possible to rent a decent studio for €350 a month, and that’s before you consider rooms in shared accommodation on the north side, in Cobh or any of the other areas that locals shy away from. Low rents are not only attractive, but essential to the artists and bohemians who flock here not only to live, but to do business.

Recently the Walter Mitty, aka best café in Dublin, closed its doors because the rent and rates in the city centre were too high. If they’d opened in Cork, Leesiders would still be enjoying their fine lattes. From Filter to Roasters, BDSM to Latitude, low rents sustain quality businesses Dublin can only dream about. Everybody benefits.

2. Cost of living is low

Like, vastly lower. You can buy a house, run a car and feed a family (or a band) for much less here than in Dublin.

It’s no coincidence that Celtic Tiger folly the Elysian Tower sits idle while the city’s bustling back streets are alive with newfound energy. Cork’s lack of pretension is reflected in its cost.

There’s a trader feel about the city centre, where you just might get a couple of bucks knocked off the asking price. No wonder students hang out here at lunchtime like it’s a back yard bike shed.

3. Culture

Recently, when Dublin announced the creation of a new cultural quarter, artists held their breath and then let it out as a sigh when it was given to big business – to encourage economic creativity.

Cork doesn’t need a cultural quarter; it is one. As well as a thriving music scene, several excellent small-to-medium sized theatres and cinemas, Cork is home to Ireland’s only dedicated dance theatre. The Firkin Crane is five minute’s walk from Patrick Street, a 300-seat stage for contemporary dance. Also in the city centre, SAMPLE Studios provides artists with much needed space and sense of community, and The Guesthouse on the north side offers exhibition space and residencies to visiting artists. Opportunities like these simply don’t exist in Dublin, where property is at a premium.

4. Location, location, location…

Drive 30 minutes from O’Connell Bridge and you’re stuck in traffic. Drive 30 minutes from Patrick’s Bridge and you’re in Kinsale, Youghal or any number of sleepy fishing villages.

The coastline is one of the best things about Cork. Head west for the least accessible, least spoilt and best kept secret in the country – the Beara peninsula, where life slows to the pace of the capital’s gridlocked traffic. At six hours drive from the Liffey, Castletownbere is out of the reach of most harried Dubliners. But Corkonians can enjoy the Healy Pass, Bantry Bay and Bere Island any time they want.

5. Multiculturalism

It goes without saying the country has changed a lot over the past ten years, but Cork has changed more than most. Maybe it’s the relaxed pace of life, the friendly atmosphere or (more likely) the low rents, but, whatever the case, the Real Capital’s better integrated than most.

From Polish shops to African, the city accommodates its citizens new and old. The Jewish quarter is also enjoying a quiet revival, with Goldberg’s pub a focal point.

6. Festivals

Corkonians have just had some world-class literature as part of the Cork International Short Story Festival, as well as the internationally-renowned the Jazz Festival.

Come summertime, it’s one festival after another and as the county lays on entertainment for all ages and tastes.

7. Food and drink

It’s no accident that the Old English Market is situated at the heart of the city. Cork is very much a foodie destination. Several quality ethnic restaurants have expanded the city’s palate and uncovered a willingness to try new tastes.

The Real Capital beats Dublin hands down at vegan and vegetarian food, featuring the famous Café Paradiso, the Quay Co-Op and the excellent My Goodness, coming soon to a market stall near you. Meanwhile, seafood lovers are well catered for in the Oyster Bar, Fishy Fishy and The Bosun.

Weekly farmers’ markets in Mahon Point, Douglas and Carrigaline cater for those who can’t make the Old English Market.

8. Nightlife

There’s only so many dance studio sharings, poetry slams and site-specific theatre you can take in before the urge to celebrate the city’s vitality seizes you. Live music has long been Cork’s forte, with Fred Zeppelin’s, Bru Bar and the Pavilion examples of the diversity on offer.

The Savoy, the Bodega and Crane Lane are electric at the weekend – excellent for weekend warriors who like to get glammed up for a night on the town. Go out midweek and you’ll find something different; whether relaxed beats spilling from the Sextant onto the quays, or trad from the Sin É, Cork likes to relax and kick up its feet. How else would you make it to dawn?

9. The people

The type of person who lives in Cork is the kind who gets it. Who gets the city, the accent and its culture and that, dear Dublin, is what makes it unique.

Living in Cork implies the kind of savvy attitude, disregard for convention and love of place you’d expect from somewhere dubbed the ‘rebel county’. You know exactly what your city’s gonna look like in ten years: the same. Ours has just begun.

Stephen Collins is a writer based in Cork. Follow him on Twitter: @sdarcycollins.

Cork is one of Europe’s most ‘underrated’ cities – Huffington Post

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Steve Collins

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