Co. Cork, fully occupies the glorious south west corner of Ireland's mainland. It includes the Caha and Slieve Miskish mountain ranges on the Beara peninsula, the Ballyhoura Mountains on the border with Co. Limerick and the Shehy Mountains on the border with Co. Kerry. The largest mountain range in Ireland, the Galtee Mountains, also crosses Co. Cork, as well as Tipperary and Limerick. There are three great rivers, the Bandon, the Blackwater and the River Lee, winding their way through the region, their valleys being the dominant feature of Co. Cork's landscape. Cork is also famous for its rugged and spectacular Atlantic coastline, featuring many peninsulas, headlands, beaches and islands.
The first glimpse of Cork City grew out of a monastic settlement from the sixth century, said to be founded by Saint Finbar. However, the capital city of Co. Cork seems to have flourished as the result of Vikings heavily raiding what would eventually become the province of Munster. The raiders turned into settlers and then began trading with the surrounding inhabitants, which lead to the establishment of an important community.
Come the twelfth century, when the county was invaded by the Anglo-Normans from England, the Norse settlers of Cork fought beside the Irish natives against the conquerors. Unfortunately, the alliance came to an ultimately futile end. Having been forced under English rule, Cork City was given charter by Prince John in 1185 and became an English outpost, cut off from Dublin and surrounded by hostile native inhabitants.
1491 saw the Co. Cork region getting involved in the War of the Roses, with the people supporting and fighting for Perkin Warbeck, as he tried to overthrow Henry VII. because he was a Frenchman rather than English. By becoming the only Irish people to fight in that war, Cork earned itself the nickname of The Rebel City. During the Nine Year's War, the 1601 Battle of Kinsale effectively crushed the Irish rebel's campaign and solidified English Rule for the next three hundred years. Shortly after, in 1606, County Cork was officially created, through the dividing of County Desmond.
The county's reputation as The Rebel County came to prominence again during the early twentieth century, during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. The City of Cork was a centre for the Fenians and the Irish Parliamentary Party, and the county suffered an extreme amount of guerrilla fighting and English troop ambushes. Eventually though, the fighting subsided in 1923 when the local IRA units called a cease fire.
These days Co. Cork has become a popular visitor destination, thanks to the stunning countryside and coastline, the county and capital city's heritage, and the famous hospitality and friendliness of the local people. Fiercely proud of their county – sometimes even referring to it as a separate country, the People's Republic of Cork – and often claiming that Cork City is the real capital of Ireland, the inhabitants of this wonderful region are still a very welcoming and warm race.