'Cleaner than Dublin but lacks public toilets': A fresh take on Cork city from tourists

Tourists have enjoyed Cork this summer but dereliction, graffiti and a lack of public toilets are issues they have flagged about the city. Sarah Horgan joined the open-top sightseeing tour bus to hear their views on Leeside
'Cleaner than Dublin but lacks public toilets': A fresh take on Cork city from tourists

The Echo caught up with some foreign visitors to hear about their first impressions of our city on the Cork City Tours bus. Picture: Denis Minihane.

TOURISTS have offered a fresh perspective on the issues facing Cork city from its lack of public toilets to noticeable dereliction.

The Echo caught up with some foreign visitors to hear about their first impressions of our city.

Those travelling on Cork city tour’s open-top sightseeing bus were lucky enough to benefit from a bird’s eye view of many famous rebel landmarks.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t the City Gaol or Shandon bells that caught one tourist’s eye along the way.

David Hilditch from Sussex found it difficult to avert his gaze from the graffiti-adorned buildings and questionable landscaping.

“It’s such a shame because Cork has so much character”, he said.

David and Val Hilditch spoke to the Echo about their first impressions of Cork city on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour
David and Val Hilditch spoke to the Echo about their first impressions of Cork city on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour

“Someone living here would really have to walk around the city with their eyes open to see the work that needs to be done. In certain places, it looks like there are trees sprouting out of buildings because they have become so neglected. Anyone living here for more than 10 years would have stopped noticing these things but to a tourist, it’s very visible.”

He listed some points for Cork City Council to take note of.

“Sometimes the solutions take a lot of effort”, he said.

‘ALL THE MAKINGS OF A BEAUTIFUL CITY’

“Other times they take very little. This is such a beautiful city and the foundation is already there to do so much good. Cork has all the makings of a beautiful city. Everyone sees things in different ways and it’s the people who are seeing things for the first time who ask all the questions. Normally, the people who are residents in a city reach a point where they no longer ask any questions.”

Mr Hilditch acknowledged Cork’s historical significance.

“Much of the UK was bombed which meant it lost a lot of history. Many of the replacement buildings were dreadful. Cork didn’t lose anything and still retains so much of its history. What I love about Cork city is how they kept the face of old buildings that now accommodate modern interiors. The shopping centre on Patrick Street is actually really beautiful to look at. The fact that they still kept the face of it rather than let it go to rack and ruin is very positive. It helps make the buildings look more alive.” Other buildings-according to David-could do with some TLC.

“There is a lot to be done in terms of ‘upstairs gardening’, he joked. I’m seeing a lot of plants growing out of chimneys. From what I can see the city might not even that much work because the basis is already there for a great city. All that’s needed is a little tidying up.”

The tourist also commented on Cork’s issue with graffiti.

“I’ve never been a fan of graffiti, even if it’s belonging to Banksy.”

Michael Twomey, who was driving the bus that day, described how the lack of public toilets in Cork city is affecting business.

“I have had old ladies on the bus almost crying because they can’t find anywhere to use the bathroom. The public toilets on Grand Parade are no longer in use. It’s a disgrace that, for all the tourists we have travelling in on cruise ships to Cork city, there is not one single public toilet.

Our shortfalls, however, did not seem to deter some passengers including Catherine Coughlan who was travelling with her daughter Laura and granddaughter Katie.

It was a family affair for Catherine Coughlan, her daughter Laura and granddaughter Katie who enjoyed a trip with a difference together on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour
It was a family affair for Catherine Coughlan, her daughter Laura and granddaughter Katie who enjoyed a trip with a difference together on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour

“I was born in Belfast and moved to New York 60 years ago. I’ve been back and forth to Ireland ever since and find Cork to be such a beautiful city.”

Emma and Stephen Dearn from Buckinghamshire were seeing a very different side to Cork city.

Emma and Stephen Dearn enjoying the views on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.
Emma and Stephen Dearn enjoying the views on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.

“We’ve been camping around Ireland and last night we stayed in Blarney. One of the things I love about Cork is the street entertainment. I’m not hugely into music but it really adds to the atmosphere.”

Malcolm and Linda Mogford from Somerset were glad to be able to sample some of Cork’s hidden gems.

“The open-top bus is great because it gives us a chance to look at lots of sites in Cork and decide on which parts we’d like to visit. Our favourite thing about Cork so far has probably been the bus driver Michael. He’s a real Irish charmer.”

Belinda Chapman and Judy Tweddall had their own thoughts on the city.

‘CLEANER THAN DUBLIN’

“For me Cork is much smarter than Dublin,” Judy said.

“When I say smart I mean it’s a lot cleaner. People are definitely much friendly over here.

“There are some places in the UK where neighbours don’t even speak to each other, yet people in Cork will talk to a stranger like they are old friends. One thing I really like is that people don’t see you any differently when you are old. Here you are treated as an equal and I love that.” Belinda shared her friend’s sentiment.

from left, Judy Tweddall and Belinda Chapman making the most of their holiday in Cork on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.
from left, Judy Tweddall and Belinda Chapman making the most of their holiday in Cork on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.

“The atmosphere is always so lovely. We came here to see Westlife as they are a band we have followed from the start. People are always so friendly and helpful at any concert you go to here.

10-year-old Claudia Cashin spoke of her first impressions of Cork from a kid’s point of view.

Claudia Cashin and her grandfather Alan Bird enjoying seeing Cork for the first time on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.
Claudia Cashin and her grandfather Alan Bird enjoying seeing Cork for the first time on the Hop On/Hop Off Cork City Sightseeing Tour.

“I love how the water in the river shines. If you look really closely you can see so many fish.”

Her grandfather Alan on the other hand was a big fan of the shopping centre.

“It’s got everything,” he said of Merchant’s Quay shopping centre.

“My wife does the shopping though while I prefer to stand outside. I never thought it would be so big and that there would be so much to do.”

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