Elizabeth Fort has played a part in Ireland’s tumultuous history since 1601; it was constructed in timber on the orders of British politician Sir George Carew to defend British military interests in Ireland and named after Queen Elizabeth I. Built on a limestone outcrop just south of Cork’s walls, it was expanded into its present stone star-shape in 1624–26 under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell and saw much action for the next two centuries withstanding sieges between Britain and Ireland.
By 1719 the fort was a military barracks for 700 British soldiers but after they moved to a larger base in 1806 it served many functions, including a deportation center for criminals being sent to Australia; a food depot during the Great Famine of 1845-52, when the potato crop failed; and an air raid shelter in World War II. Latterly it became a Garda (Irish police) station before being opened to the public in 2013. There are spectacular views over Cork and its cathedral from the fort’s ramparts and a schedule of themed family days and re-enactments take place behind the sturdy walls throughout the year.
Barrack Street, Cork. Admission free. Open Tue–Sat 10am–5pm; Sun 12pm–5pm. Free guided tour Sat 1pm. Cork is a small city and all its sights are easily accessed on foot; Elizabeth Fort is just a few minutes’ walk from St Finbarr’s Cathedral. Disabled access to the fort is limited.