CARRIGALINE is perfectly positioned for those who wish to abscond: 15 minutes from Cork Airport and 5km from the ferry port at Ringaskiddy.
While there won’t be much international travel this year, why would you even want to abscond, when Carrigaline and its surrounding areas have so much to offer?
Cllr Liam O’Connor is certainly grateful to be living in Carrigaline and enjoying its convenient location.
“I’m here just over 11 years now and the reason I moved to Carrigaline was because it kind of has a country feel to it,” he says.
“It’s country living, but you still have all the amenities of a large town or even a city, plus we’re only 15 minutes from the city and 15 minutes from a beach.
“I grew up in the country in west Limerick and every time I came to Carrigaline, that’s what appealed to me most; being close to the city and the beach.”
Liam has been working with Janssen for 15 years and has been a Fine Gael councillor since 2019. He’s also chairperson of Carrigaline Tidy Towns, which will be one of four groups representing County Cork at this year’s IPB Pride of Place awards, a national competition recognising and celebrating improvements made by local communities to create civic pride in their area.
It’s fair to say that Carrigaline has already seen much transformation. Originally a village, it gradually grew to become a satellite town to the city, and is now Cork’s biggest town with a population of 16,000.
The town made positive headlines last August with the creation of a Community Parklet in the Owenabue car park.
“Some of the parking spaces were removed and we put in benches, which was a huge success. It really gave a social point, a meeting area that we didn’t have before Covid,” explains Liam.
“There are plans now to extend so we should have double the size of that in the next couple of weeks, with more seating.”
The Tidy Towns office at the parklet received a gorgeous facelift just over a week ago.
Freshly painted by KWP Print and Design, it now has the appearance of a wooden hut with squirrels, owls, a hedgehog, deer and lamb all adorning the exterior walls. The parklet is a great spot in which to stop and have a coffee, with a few nearby options to provide refreshments. You can get takeaway beverages from Supervalu, or check out Carpe Diem or Hassett’s Bakery on Main Street, while Bean & Leaf is also in close proximity.
Meanwhile, Carrigaline Community Park has a lot to offer in terms of amenities.
“We have a large playground and a skate park, we’re about to finish off a running track and we have a pond area there too. We’d have a lot of families coming down feeding the ducks. In that area — we call it the pond but it’s really the estuary of the Owenabue — we have a group called Paddle the Owenabue, who enjoy kayaking and water activities.
“Over the last 12 months we met there regularly and launched from the Community Park. You can kayak down to Crosshaven or Rabbit Island or come back up to the town, depending on the tide,” says Liam.
If you’d prefer to stay on dry land but with a water-side view, the Carrigaline to Crosshaven walkway is a scenic route worth taking. You can do the whole distance or choose to drive to the Kilnagleary car park half way down and take it from there. There’s a little bit of magic for the kids to watch out for too: “On that walkway are fairy-trail doors on trees; there are a few in Carrigaline too and on the river walkway at the Owenabue car park,” advises Liam.
Around Carrigaline there’s also a heritage trail to be followed by those who have an interest in history. The old Carrigaline Pottery site is on it, while other locations of interest include Ballea Castle, St. John’s Well, Carrigaline Castle and Kilmoney Abbey.
If you’re looking to leave Carrigaline with a unique gift under your arm, then check out a shop called The Gallery, run by the Owenabue Arts Collective, a group of 24 local artists. Situated on Main Street, it’s a gallery, craft shop and arts centre (open Thursday to Saturday or by appointment), with pottery, woodturning, paintings, stitching and ceramics all under one roof.
There’s some outdoor artwork to appreciate as well in Carrigaline. Just two weeks ago local artists Mary and Teresa O’Regan began painting a new mural focusing on swans, the estuary and its biodiversity. Commissioned by Carrigaline Tidy Towns, with support from Cork County Council, it can be seen on the side of the SVP shop.
And there’s already a more established one, as Liam explains: “We have a mural at one of the Tidy Town Gardens. It’s a mural using ceramics and some of the old Carrigaline pottery on the wall. It’s a wildlife scene. That’s at the Sail Garden. You’ll pass it if you’re doing the Carrigaline to Crosshaven walk. Carrigaline Lions Club commissioned a piece of sculpture there; a big metal sail — probably 20ft high — for the middle of the garden.”
There are two more Tidy Towns gardens to visit: a wildlife garden in the centre of town near Lidl and another remembering Ireland’s past struggles.
“For the 1916 commemorations, the Tidy Towns created a 1916 centenary garden. That’s on the way into Carrigaline. In the centre of the garden we made a lawn into the shape of Ireland. We have plaques for the signatories of the proclamation and there are Irish native trees dotted around. Kids love it as they can go in and wheel around the shape of Ireland”, says Liam.
With all that walking — and possibly skating, cycling and kayaking too — make sure you come to Carrigaline with plenty energy. Although if you need to stop and refuel, Full O’ Beans is a coffee truck to meet your needs at the community park and at the GAA club, while Lulu’s is another coffee outlet halfway down the Carrigaline to Crosshaven walkway.
If you visit on a Friday morning, drop into the Carrigaline Country Market for an array of local produce. It’s housed at the Pipe Band Hall, just off Main Street near the church.
As Liam knows, another great selling point for Carrigaline is its proximity to the beaches, with Fountainstown and Myrtleville close by. So make sure to pack your swimming trunks as well as the kayak!
Next up; Skibbereen