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Cork City (Irish: Corcaigh) is the second city of the Republic of Ireland and Ireland's third most populous city after Dublin and Belfast. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city of the province of Munster. The city proper has a population of 119,143 (2006 census), however this increases to 190,384 (2006 census) if the immediate suburbs of the city in the Cork County Council area are included. In the "Cork Joint Housing Strategy", it states that the 2006 population of Metropolitan Cork stands at approximately 274,000, while the Greater Cork area stands at 380,000 in 2006.
The city's name is derived from an Irish word corcach meaning "marshy place", referring to its situation on the River Lee. Cork has a reputation for rebeliousness dating back to the town's support of the English pretender Perkin Warbeck in 1491 during the Wars of the Roses. This has given Cork the nickname of "the Rebel County". It is not unusual for Corkonians to refer to Cork as the "real capital of Ireland" or to feel they have a distinct identity from the rest of Ireland.
The city is built on the River Lee which divides into two channels at the western end of the city. The city centre is located on the island created by the channels. At the eastern end of the city centre they converge; and the Lee flows around Lough Mahon to Cork Harbour, the world's second largest natural harbour after Sydney Harbour in Australia. The city is a major Irish seaport; there are quays and docks along the banks of the Lee on the city's east side.
Cork was originally a monastic settlement founded by Saint Finbarr in the sixth century. Cork achieved an urban character at some point between 915 and 922 when Norseman (Viking) settlers founded a trading port. It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was an important trading centre in the global Scandinavian trade network.
The city was once fully walled, and some wall sections and gates remain today. For much of the Middle Ages, Cork city was an outpost of Old English culture in the midst of a predominantly hostile Gaelic countryside and cut off from the English government in the Pale around Dublin. Neighbouring Gaelic and Hiberno-Norman lords extorted "Black Rent" from the citizens in order to keep them from attacking the city. The main overlords of south western Ireland were the Fitzgerald Earl of Desmond dynasty, with the lordships of the MacCarthy and Barry families abutting directly onto Cork city. The Cork municipal government was dominated by about 12-15 merchant families, whose wealth came from overseas trade with continental Europe - in particular the export of wool and hides and the import of salt, iron and wine. Of these families, only the Ronayne family were of Gaelic Irish origin. The medieval population of Cork was about 2000 people. It suffered a severe blow in 1349 when almost half the townspeople died of bubonic plague when the Black Death arrived in the town. In 1491 Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. Cork's nickname of the 'rebel city' originates in these events.
A description of Cork written in 1577 speaks of the city as, "the fourth city of Ireland" that is, "so encumbered with evil neighbours, the Irish outlaws, that they are fayne to watch their gates hourly...they trust not the country adjoining [and only marry within the town] so that the whole city is linked to each other in affinity"
The city's charter was granted by King John in 1185. The title of Mayor of Cork was established by royal charter in 1318, and the title was changed to Lord Mayor in 1900 following the Knighthood of the incumbent Mayor by Queen Victoria on her visit to the City.
In the War of Independence, the centre of Cork was gutted by fires started by the British Black and Tans, and the city saw fierce fighting between Irish guerrillas and UK forces. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.
Source : Wikipedia.org