Built in 1722, St. Anne's Church is known for its large golden fish weathervane, which stands atop its bell tower and can be seen from much of the city. Visitors can climb the tower and try to play a tune on the church's eight bells, which were immortalized in the 19th-century poem, “The Bells of Shandon.”
St. Anne's Church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cork. Visitors are free to wander around the church when services are not in progress but must pay a small fee to climb the tower and ring the bells. The tower is sometimes called the "four-faced liar" because the clock faces displayed on its four sides never seem to be in sync, and often display different times.
Guided walking tour groups often visit St. Anne’s as well as other Cork sights. Visitors can also hire a private guide, or purchase an audio tour that offers the opportunity to explore Cork independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There are no toilet facilities at St. Anne’s Church.
- Bring a camera; flash-free photography is allowed outside of service times and the views from the top of the tower are spectacular.
- Ascending the tower requires visitors to climb more than 130 narrow stone steps, and may not be suitable for visitors with mobility issues or for those who suffer from claustrophobia.
How to Get There
St. Anne's Church is situated in the Shandon district of Cork, north of the River Lee. Walking from St. Patrick's Quay or Grand Parade will take about 10 minutes. Alternatively, Bus Éireann route 203 runs between Grand Parade and the church.
When to Get There
The church is open year-round. Opening hours and tower access can be affected by religious services. The church receives most visitors during the summer months. On busy days, such as Cork Heritage Open Day in August, you can expect to wait in line to ring the bells. To avoid crowds, visit in the morning.
The Bells of Shandon
Visitors to St. Anne’s are able to ring the bells of Shandon, which were originally cast in 1750 but have since been recast several times. Instruction booklets show visitors how to play simple tunes, such as “Frère Jacques,” by pulling the bells in the right sequence. Earplugs are provided to protect visitors from the loud ringing sound.