Kanturk is a small and friendly town with a unique personality. Situated in north-west Co. Cork, it is the capital of the ancient barony of Duhallow and has a population of around 2000.
The town is very accessible. Standing in the middle of Kanturk one is less than an hour’s drive from Cork, Tralee, Limerick and Killarney. Mainline rail is less than ten minutes away, and airports at Cork, Kerry and Shannon are within easy reach.
Kanturk is nestled between two hills and the rivers Allow and Dallow, which converge in the town, dictate much of its layout. Its streets radiate from an old market square and its two old stone bridges are focal points in the town. Historically noted for its well-wooded appearance, the visitor to Kanturk is initially struck by its beech-lined approaches. Kanturk is a compact town, with modern development well-integrated into its traditional layout.
A deep sense of history and tradition has shaped Kanturk, physically, socially and culturally. Its hinterland straddles the strongly Gaelic Sliabh Luachra region to the west and the more planted region to the east around the Munster Blackwater. Both are reflected in the town’s cultural and physical atmosphere.
The magnificent Kanturk Castle, for example, is one the largest structures built by a native Irish chieftain and the town’s name, derived from Ceann Turic (Boar’s Head), reflects the legend that the last wild boar in Ireland was slain here. On the other hand, some of the town’s architectural and layout have a Georgian influence.
Kanturk still remains an authentic market town, serving local villages and a rich agricultural hinterland. It is traditionally noted for its quality dairying and beef products, and artisan food production is now emerging from this tradition. Kanturk is a vibrant commercial centre and has a range of services and businesses unusual for a town of its size.
Along with its physical and cultural features, Kanturk has many attractions and amenities for visitors and newcomers alike. It is noted for its three public riverside parks and has a strong and very diverse sporting tradition. The town, for example, boasts the only cycling velodrome outside of Dublin.
Kanturk has a host of pubs – both traditional and contemporary in ambience – and many eating places for ethnic and traditional tastes. It has an annual Arts Festival and is the centre for a very active and inclusive choral society. The town has strong social networks and a long-established Community Council. Kanturk is also at the centre of a strong fishing region, dominated by the Blackwater, and the local rivers are proactively managed by the local angling club.
All things considered, Kanturk is the perfect base for exploring Sliabh Luachra, Duhallow and the upper Blackwater.
The town of Kanturk, therefore, has much to offer. It is cosy and rooted in tradition, but also self-confident, proud and progressive. Visitors and newcomers alike will find it warm, interesting and welcoming.