Cork may be walkable and a perfect cozy size, but it is also the second-largest city in the Republic and parking quickly reminds us of that fact. If you are a car owner living in, working in, or even visiting Cork City, you need a personal parking space, a parking disc, a ticket for a Q-Park or other garage (aka car park), or a city permit. There are, however, times when you can park on some streets without any of these, but during weekday ‘office’ hours and Saturdays, be prepared to leave your vehicle in a place for a fee. Though free parking has been a hot topic, for now most options require you part with a few quid.
While we’re talking about cars in town, here’s a quick refresher on driving in Cork City.
1) Look out for pedestrians. Jaywalking is a way of life here.
2) Tourists, remember to keep left.
3) Watch traffic patterns because one-way streets are popular. Maps are readily available online and in the Cork Vision Centre, ORK, and other tourism offices.
4) The city itself is very walkable so whenever possible, park your car and explore on foot.
To help you find a spot so you can get out and explore the city (or to your office or home), here is a run-down of parking options which I will describe below:
Street Parking with ParkMagic (Pay by Phone);
Parking Discs; Multi-Storey Car Parks;
Black Ash Park & Ride (Kent Station too);
Private Parking by Arrangement;
Disabled Parking (specifics);
Free Parking Options (they may not be central, but they exist); and
GoCar (in case you just want to give up on owning a car after reading about the other options).
Street Parking – Pay By Phone Using ParkMagic
You may pay for your on-street parking using your mobile phone. This is an option instead of parking discs. You do not need to do both ParkMagic and a Parking Disc – only one of them. This will not replace the Parking Disc system either, just another option for people parking in town. It is essential to register first and receive your free starter pack. You get €5 credit for joining (perhaps related to this 2009 bit of news). Then when you park in town, you dial ParkMagic 0818 22 03 30 from your mobile phone and press your street number where you’ve parked. It costs €2 for whatever the limit is where you are (one or two hours, look at the parking street sign for details). Before your time expires, you have the chance to extend your parking time there for one additional hour for the cost of €2. All the details are on the City website and at http://www.ParkMagic.net
Street Parking – Discs
Parking requires payment on streets except at night and on Sundays so watch for signs. I have never seen a meter, instead Parking Discs are in use six days a week, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (not Sundays). However, read the sign where you are parking because around UCC Disc hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.! This may not be posted, but was publicized in the Evening Echo and explains why the Sunday’s Well roads have increased parking on the other side of the Shaky Bridge (aka Daly’s Bridge). A Disc costs about €2 for one hour parking on the street in a designated Disc area. You can also have an account that allows you to phone into a number to activate your parking (more on that in a moment). Directly from the wise and legally accurate Cork City website:
If parking on the road make sure that parking is allowed. Parking is never allowed on roads with double yellow lines, in disabled driver spaces, on footpaths and within 5 metres of a junction. Streets with single yellow lines forbid parking at certain times. These times will be shown on a sign nearby (usually 8.30am – 6.30pm, Monday – Saturday). Cars parked illegally may be towed away or clamped.
The city centre operates a disc parking system. Cars parked in a disc parking area (indicated by street parking signs) must display a valid parking disc. The parking limit in each area is also indicated on the sign – either 1 or 2 hours. Cars which overstay their disc may get a parking ticket or be clamped. Parking discs
can be bought at newsagents, garages and convenience stores. Scratch off the panels to indicate the time and date you parked and display the disc in the window next to the kerb.
Multi-Storey Car Park (aka Garage)
Hourly rates are the norm with some places offering day or overnight rates. There are several public parking garages in the city. The lowest public garage hourly rate is the garage on North Main, but with its early closing time rely on it only for daytime parking needs. For overnight parking, I’ve found Q-Park on Grand Parade to be the best bargain since it’s €5 for 5:00 p.m. to 9 a.m. (overnight) or €3 for 6:00 p.m. to midnight (evening out). Keep in mind, not all garages are open seven days a week or have exits that are open in the middle of the night so be sure your need to access your vehicle matches with the available hours of the garage you choose. Parkopedia.ie has a real-time map of Cork City car parks and their available spaces!
Black Ash Park & Ride
If driving in the city isn’t your thing, use the Black Ash Park & Ride. It also saves grief if you are coming from the south side of the city. Popular with commuters, you park by the South Link Road and enjoy a bus ride into town. It costs just €5 per day or works out less if you purchase a monthly or yearly ticket. The next best price for all-day parking is at Kent Station for €7. Compare for yourself.
Residential Parking Permits
In August 2005, the rules for resident eligibility for parking permits changed and now it depends on what kind of dwelling you have. Thankfully, it is all explained on Cork City’s website. You will undoubtedly need their Residents Permit Application Form and Guidelines.
If your office or home doesn’t come with its own parking spot, but you need a reliable place for your car to spend its days or nights, consider renting a space. Daft even has a section! So does Rent.ie.
Cork City car parks offer disabled access spaces on a limited basis as do some of the hotel and business car parks for their patrons. The City also maintains Location of Disabled Parking Spaces in Cork City, a list which is also posted as a PDF.
It is free to park on most city streets between 6:31 p.m. and 8:29 a.m. Monday through Saturday and all of Sunday. Around the UCC campus, free street parking is rumored to start later. But there are streets and car parks on the outskirts of the city where there is free parking any time. I have heard that at one time or another these places are free of parking disc restrictions (I cannot confirm if this is still the case and don’t have a car): Blackpool Shopping Centre; Lee Road; Marina Walk; Mill Road; Monahan’s Road; by Ballyphehane Library; Thomond Square; by Albert Road.
Ok, so not related to parking, but if you are coming into town for business from Dublin or someplace easy to access by train and don’t have any parking options, you could take public transport down and use GoCar.ie.