Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

June's Cork Harbour 2024 Festival Set to Delight Maritime Enthusiasts

15th May 2024
On the 8th of June, Ocean to City - An Rás Mór, as part of the Cork Harbour festival will see hundreds of rowers and paddlers compete in a challenging 28km race through Cork harbour
On the 8th of June, Ocean to City - An Rás Mór, as part of the Cork Harbour festival will see hundreds of rowers and paddlers compete in a challenging 28km race through Cork harbour Credit: Clare Keogh

The much-anticipated Cork Harbour Festival is returning this June for 10 days of maritime fun, running from the 1st to the 10th. The festival showcases Cork's stunning natural assets, including Cork Harbour and the River Lee, and promises a diverse programme of events across both Cork City and County.

One of the festival's main attractions is Ocean to City - An Rás Mór, a long-distance coastal rowing race that draws participants from around the world. This flagship event will take place on Saturday 8th June, offering spectators an exciting display of skill and endurance.

With over 80 events spread across a dozen beautiful locations, including Myrtleville, Cobh, Crosshaven, and Spike Island, the festival caters to a wide range of interests and age groups. From water sports and boat tours to heritage walks and cultural experiences, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Geri Murphy, the Festival Manager, expressed her excitement, stating, "Meitheal Mara are delighted to bring you yet another amazing fun-filled programme of events for this year's Cork Harbour Festival, now in its 10th year. We can't wait to welcome thousands of visitors to come and delve into all the Maritime fun that this Festival has to offer, and explore the awe and beauty of Cork this June."

The festival has garnered support from various sponsors, including Cork City Council and Cork County Council. Lord Mayor of Cork City, Councillor Kieran McCarthy, emphasised the festival's role in showcasing the city's maritime stories and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

On the 8th of June, Ocean to City - An Rás Mór will see hundreds of rowers and paddlers compete in a challenging 28km race through the harbour, offering spectators ample vantage points to witness the action.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O'Flynn, underlined the festival's celebration of Cork's maritime heritage and its potential as a world-class visitor destination.

With its rich program of events and activities, the Cork Harbour Festival promises an unforgettable experience for both locals and tourists, celebrating the beauty and history of this remarkable region.

2024 Cork Harbour Festival Programme:

On the Water:
We have a huge amount of water activities happening during Cork Harbour Festival. Embark on an exhilarating 3-hour tour of Cork Harbour with Ocean Escapes (9th June). Enjoy an exciting 2 hour Evening Rib Tour of Cork Harbour with Cork Harbour Boat Hire (1st & 7th June) or explore the Wildlife & Coast of Cork Harbour with Cork Sea Safari (1st, 2nd, 8th & 9th). Take an introductory lesson in scuba diving with Cork Scuba and Freediving Centre (3rd – 7th). Try surfing and coasteering with Swell Surf School (1st June). Give kayaking a go with Phoenix Kayak Club (7th) or kayak under the bridges of Cork and see the city like you never have before with Atlantic Sea Kayaking (9th June). Hop into a dragon boat with the Cork Dragons (1st June) in the city or head to East Ferry to try yacht sailing with SailCork (1st & 4th June). If you’d rather keep your feet on stable ground head out to support all the participants in the Ocean to City Race (8th June), the Myrtleville to Church Bay 2km Open Water (10th June) and the Rebel Plunge (16th June).

Family Events:
Learn how to read a map and navigate with your family while exploring Cruachain Woods and Crosshaven town with Bishopstown Orienteering & Hillwalking Clubs (2nd June) and explore how to navigate the stars at the MTU Blackrock castle Observatory (8th June). The ever popular Cork Ghost Tour is back this year for more hilarious frights and hysterical delights for all the family (6th & 7th June). Head to Cobh for live music, a market and lots of family fun at Cobh Summer swing (9th June) or create a LEGO masterpiece with Brickxclub in Crosshaven (2nd June). Check out all the winning model boats from the Lord Mayor Kieran McCarthy’s Make a Model Boat Project at Cork City Library (2nd- 22nd June) and then go play at the Currach Olympics on dry land at Marina Park (9th).

The popular Lunchtime Lecture series, presented by the UCC History Department returns this year, covering fascinating topics such as Farming and the growth of international trade in the south of Ireland, c. 1250-1800 (4th June), Cross-cultural connections in the early medieval Irish Sea (5th June) and The story of Kinsale Natural Gas (6th June). Learn all about bottlenose dolphins with ORCA Ireland (9th June) and about limitless swimming with Guinness World Record holder Nuala Moore (8th June). Head to Fountainstown for a shore walk and talk on the vulnerabilities of the area and how we can help to protect the coast with the Enviromental Forum or discover Maritime Careers at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy (7th June).

Take a historical walking tour with the Lord Mayor Kieran McCarthy as he recites Stories from Blackrock and Mahon (3rd June). Head out to Belvelly Smoke House in Cobh to learn all about and taste Hedermans famous smoked fish (1st-10th bar Sundays). Discover Cork’s captivating history on a Cork City Cycle tour with Beyond the Glass Adventures (1st, 4th – 8th & 10th June). Cobh Heritage Museum, Spike Island, Titanic Experience Cobh, Camden Fort Meagher and Elizabeth Fort will also be open for visitors.

Join Subowti and Clean Coasts to clean up the Lee on your kayak, canoe, paddleboard or on foot (9th June). Explore Cork City and County with digital Self-Guided Walking Trails with Travella or join Cork Nature Network to learn all about otters (8th June). Join ORCA Ireland for a beach clean followed by a land-based sea-life watch in Crosshaven (2nd June). Hop on your bike and join the Lee to Sea Committee (9th June) or take a Cork Harbour Greenway cycle tour with Beyond the Glass Adventures (4th - 6th & 8th June).

Arts & Culture:
Enjoy some of the visual art on display during the festival; Deep Time from the Backwater Artists Group on display on Spike Island (2nd-10th June), Ariadne’s Thread at the MTU Gallery at 46 Grand Parade (4th-10th June) and Etaoin Melville: 'Silent Voices' at Triskel Arts Centre (1st –10th June). Cobh based a-cappella buoy band The Mologoggers will perform both traditional and new sea shanties in the beautiful Goldie Chapel in Nano Nagle Place (8th June). Hear stories from the Gab (9th June) or poetry from Ó Bheál (10th June) about Cork Harbour, the Lee and the sea. Learn about Cork City and its waterways with a comedic dinner experience with Hysterical Histories (1st, 6th, 7th & 8th June).

See the full festival programme of events here Team

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Cork Harbour Information

It’s one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and those living near Cork Harbour insist that it’s also one of the most interesting.

This was the last port of call for the most famous liner in history, the Titanic, but it has been transformed into a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The harbour has been a working port and a strategic defensive hub for centuries, and it has been one of Ireland's major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Traditional heavy industries have waned since the late 20th century, with the likes of the closure of Irish Steel in Haulbowline and shipbuilding at Verolme. It still has major and strategic significance in energy generation, shipping and refining.

Giraffe wander along its shores, from which tens of thousands of men and women left Ireland, most of them never to return. The harbour is home to the oldest yacht club in the world, and to the Irish Navy. 

This deep waterway has also become a vital cog in the Irish economy.

‘'s Cork Harbour page’ is not a history page, nor is it a news focus. It’s simply an exploration of this famous waterway, its colour and its characters.

Cork Harbour Festival

Ocean to City – An Rás Mór and Cork Harbour Open Day formerly existed as two popular one-day events located at different points on Cork’s annual maritime calendar. Both event committees recognised the synergy between the two events and began to work together and share resources. In 2015, Cork Harbour Festival was launched. The festival was shaped on the open day principle, with Ocean to City – An Ras Mór as the flagship event.

Now in its sixth year, the festival has grown from strength to strength. Although the physical 2020 festival was cancelled due to Covid-19, the event normally features nine festival days starting on the first week of June. It is packed full of events; all made possible through collaboration with over 50 different event partners in Cork City, as well as 15 towns and villages along Cork Harbour. The programme grows year by year and highlights Ireland’s rich maritime heritage and culture as well as water and shore-based activities, with Ocean to City – An Rás Mór at the heart of the festival.

Taking place at the centre of Ireland’s maritime paradise, and at the gateway to Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way, Cork is perfectly positioned to deliver the largest and most engaging harbour festival in Ireland.

The Cork Harbour Festival Committee includes representatives from Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Port of Cork, UCC MaREI, RCYC, Cobh & Harbour Chamber and Meitheal Mara.

Marinas in Cork Harbour

There are six marinas in Cork Harbour. Three in Crosshaven, one in East Ferry, one in Monkstown Bay and a new facility is opening in 2020 at Cobh. Details below

Port of Cork City Marina

Location – Cork City
Contact – Harbour Masters Dept., Port of Cork Tel: +353 (0)21 4273125 or +353 (0)21 4530466 (out of office hours)

Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831023

Crosshaven Boatyard Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4831161

Salve Marina Ltd

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831145

Cork Harbour Marina

Location: Monkstown, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)87 3669009

East Ferry Marina

Location: East Ferry, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4813390

New Cove Sailing Club Marina

(to be opened in 2020)

Location: Cobh, Co. Cork
Contact: 087 1178363

Cork Harbour pontoons, slipways and ramps

Cork City Boardwalk Existing pontoon

Port of Cork 100m. pontoon

Cork city – End of Cornmarket St. steps and slip;

Cork city - Proby’s Qy. Existing limited access slip

Quays Bar & Restaurant, Private pontoon and ramp for patrons, suitable for yachts, small craft town and amenities

Cobh harbour [camber] Slip and steps inside quay wall pontoon

Fota (zoo, house, gardens) Derelict pontoon and steps

Haulbowline naval basin; restricted space Naval base; restricted access;

Spike Island pier, steps; slip, pontoon and ramp

Monkstown wooden pier and steps;

Crosshaven town pier, with pontoon & steps

East Ferry Marlogue marina, Slip (Great Island side) visitors’ berths

East Ferry Existing pier and slip; restricted space East Ferry Inn (pub)
(Mainland side)

Blackrock pier and slips

Ballinacurra Quay walls (private)

Aghada pier and slip, pontoon & steps public transport links

Whitegate Slip

Passage West Pontoon

Glenbrook Cross-river ferry

Ringaskiddy Parking with slip and pontoon Ferry terminal; village 1km.

Carrigaloe pier and slip; restricted space; Cross-river ferry;

Fountainstown Slip

White’s Bay beach

Ringabella beach

Glanmire Bridge and tide restrictions

Old Glanmire - Quay