As a professional blow-in, I’m used to relocating my life. I moved to Galway from the USA as a tween, onwards to Italy after university, landed mid-Celtic Tiger in London and ended up settling in Dublin. New faces and new places don’t phase me but, with age, I found there was one face I wanted to see more of – Cork.
After ten years of travelling Leeside for work as a freelance fashion editor and stylist, the city finally made an honest woman out of me. No more one-night stands and mid-week quickies; no more rushed hotel stays or flying visits; this time, I’m in it for the long-haul.
To be honest, I was a bit gun shy at first. Commitment isn’t really my shtick but my family had been quietly urging me to move to Cork, especially when Dublin and I hit a recent rough patch. Rising house prices and a squeeze on affordable property made settling down in the big smoke a big ask. It took a light bulb moment fuelled by peak frustration before I finally changed my search parameters on Daft.ie to see what the real capital had to offer. Three months later, I moved.
With my permanent digs now in Douglas, I’ve been spending time getting to know the real Cork. As an outlier, my insider knowledge is sketchy at best. Sure, I’ve spent the best part of a decade taking the train into Kent station but every time I blew in, I blew out just as quickly. That’s the difference between a visitor and a local – one knows what they’re told, the other knows what they’ve experienced. It’s true; I had a lot of catching up to do but I also had a helluva honeymoon period in which to rediscover my Cork.
Finding my fashion fix has never been an issue. I’m like a truffle pig when it comes to matters sartorial and can easily sniff out a vintage dress blindfolded while under the influence of a mild sedative. It’s my skill. So, is my inimitable ability to not pass retro emporium Miss Daisy Blue (@missdaisyblue) without stopping – and shopping. Located on Market Parade, off Patrick Street, the 2-storey citadel to nostalgia is has kitted me out for many a special occasion. And it’s not just the garments that tell a story. The interiors have their own narrative from the glass display cabinet – originally from The Triskel, Christchurch – to the convent organ pipes hanging from the ceiling.
Another big draw for me? Drawbridge Street – home to a cache of independent boutiques like Samui (samuifashions.com), Cork’s high fashion hot spot which curates an exceptional edit of covetable fashion labels like Dries Van Noten, Marni, 3.1 Philip Lim and, cult Italian trainers, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand. What’s more, owner Clodagh Shorten, offers a personalised, door-to-door personal shopping experience for the time-strapped or location-bound.
Investing in blinkers might prove necessary, as playing house fast becomes my new hobby. In the words of Sex and the City heroine Carrie Bradshaw, “I’ve been cheating on fashion with furniture.”
To paraphrase, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Interiorosity (interiorosity.ie). Set up by Cork interior designers Nicole McGee and Caroline Breen, the salubrious Douglas décor shop is equal parts temptation and inspiration. If I do blow the budget, I intend on justifying my indulgence as ‘nesting’. There; sorted.
Speaking of blow-outs, nothing quite compares to getting the gruaig done at Sobe Brown hair salon (sobebrown.com). Run by award-winning stylist Pamela Morrissey, this beauty bolthole on Morrison’s Quay channels the spirit of Miami with its Art Deco palette and plush light-filled space. Moreover, it’s my refuge when I need manners put on my unruly locks or before a night out on the town.
Not that I’m much of a night owl (anymore) but I am fond of an early seat in a bar with a glass of red wine or a cocktail and some smartly arranged soakage like a charcuterie board or tapas. I don’t ask for much, do I? Bar Pigalle (@barpigalle) on Barrack Street and McCurtain Street’s newest resident Cask (caskcork.com) cover those bases on both sides of the river.
I am, however, a bona fide brunch girl. Luckily, I’m in the right town. Cork’s culinary reputation ensures there are oodles of places to whet one’s appetite. Dockland (dockland.ie) restaurant and deli on Lapps Quay had me at ‘hey, girl’ with its mushroom ragú on sourdough toast with rocket and Parmesan; while Brooklyn-inspired eaterie 12 Tables (12tables.ie) has become my weekend ritual with its locally-named sandwiches and savoury goodies. Plus, anyone who’s ordered the Sir Henry generally has an eponymous nightclub story of their own – trust me.
Speaking of which, when it comes to Saturdays, it’s worth getting an early start on the popular Douglas Market (iomst.ie). This small but perfectly formed farmers’ set-up is an opportunity to sample local produce from cheesemongers and chutney stands (try Primrose Cottage Preserves) to fresh fish and eggs. Don’t leave without indulging in a gourmet sausage and onion sandwich washed down with hand-roasted Ballymaloe coffee from The Golden Bean.
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"Home, is where I want to be But I guess I'm already there " - Talking Heads 💫 Home is more than just four walls; it's a feeling: that moment you stop searching for something more because it's been there the whole time. 💫 #home #talkingheads #song #instalife #thoughtfortheday #instagood #life 💫 Pic: Tim Mossholder
Not that one is ever enough. If, like me, you can’t find your face in the morning without mainlining at least two robust cups of black gold, then it’s Three Fools (threefoolscoffee.ie) for you, my friend. You know it as the glass pod on Grand Parade adjacent to Bishop Lucey Park; the one that serves specialty brews and tasty snacks like powerballs, cinnamon buns and raw peanut butter brownies. I like to take mine in a keep cup and stroll up to Elizabeth Fort (Elizabethfort.ie) for a panoramic view of the city. Although Patrick’s Hill is somewhat closer, its vertiginous incline might not blend that well with two shots of espresso.
I’d say I’ve done quite well for a newbie. In fact, I never anticipated feeling at home this quickly. I had a conversation with a cab driver, the other day, about this very thing. “Now that you’re sorted,” he said, “all that’s left for you is to find a man.” No pressure, I thought, looking at my bare ring finger. “Mark my words,” he added, “you’ll find him when you least expect it.”
Annmarie's top tips
• Breakfast/Brunch: grabbing a Sir Henry at 12 Tables, Douglas
• Lunch/Dinner: mushroom ragú on sourdough toast at Dockland; fillet steak at The River Lee hotel’s Grill Room
• Coffee: Americano at Three Fools, Grand Parade or The Bookshelf at The Elysian
• Bar/Cocktail: a tipple and tapas at Pigalle or Cask
• Shopping: vintage finds at Miss Daisy Blue; Samui’s avant-garde goodies; closet staples from Bluefig, Ballincollig
• Culture: sampling the food stalls at Douglas Market
• Hidden Treasure: a walk in Ballybrack Woods or the superlative view from Elizabeth Fort