If you suddenly feel as if you are walking on water, don’t be so surprised. Cork is a city built on water, its heart set on an island between two arms of the River Lee. Cork’s got the depth you’d expect from a European Capital of Culture – the galleries, museums and live performances plus a packed events calendar. But the city also exudes a no-nonsense warmth that makes you feel time is on your side here. Nature has a hand in that. Cork was founded 14 centuries ago, on islands in an estuary, where the River Lee joins the world’s second-largest natural harbour. Waterways circle the city-centre, crossed by 22 bridges. Hilly neighbourhoods climb the river banks stacked with colourful houses – and the University’s historic campus seamlessly connects to the city centre. Cork is one of the island’s biggest culinary hot spots. Fresh fish floods into the city from nearby towns while artisan producers furnish restaurant dishes and market stalls with sumptuous dairy products and meats from the surrounding pastureland. To the south the deep bowl of Cork Harbour, with its sailing races and regattas, is circled by some of Ireland’s iconic places. At the harbour’s edge is Cork’s port of Cobh, departure point for millions of emigrants, and the last calling point of the Titanic. It’s a place with a poignant history beneath its cheerful seaside feel. East of the Harbour is Jameson’s distillery at Midleton: a pure taste of Ireland for millions around the world. To the North West lies Blarney and its castle, legendary home of Irish eloquence. Just south again, on the Atlantic coast, is picture-perfect, smart Kinsale with its yachts, its pretty quayside, its narrow 18th century streets, its festivals and its gourmet cuisine. Grounded, witty and irreverent, “The People’s Republic of Cork” likes to set itself apart from the rest of the country. Yet for all that, it’s an intensely Irish place to visit.