Firstly thank you to bryno, tonyirish and others who provided lots of helpful tips for our weekend in Cork - the insider info proved really useful.
We got back today and had a great weekend despite the weather ! One taxi driver said Cork hasn't had a proper summer since 1995 and we were not sure if he was joking or not !
The Clarion Hotel was very good, 4 star comfort, very buzzy with 3 weddings there in 3 days and lots of other parties going on. We found Cork very expensive (the weak pound obviously doesn't help) but the Clarion represented pretty good value for money if its the sort of hotel you are looking for.
Eating out - the standard of food served is very high, from the snack in a cafe to the more expensive restaurant. We would recommend Zaks for lunch, and the Hardwood on Pope's Quay was excellent for dinner. The service and food in the Hardwood were first class, it was packed out on Saturday night so you would need to book.
The trip out to Cobh is worth doing, The Queenstown Story and a wander round town takes 2-3 hours and it is only 25 mins or so by train from Cork so very easy. We also liked wandering around the English market, a good prospect on a wet day. Finally the Marquee - what a great venue, so well organised, and Paul Weller was on top form, he certainly has a lot of fans in Ireland & got one hell of a reception from the crowd.
So thanks to all, we found the Cork people very friendly, loved the food, shame about the weather but it is bad in the UK too so no summer here either. The only negative is that Ireland is expensive and the weakness of the pound makes it even worse for the Brits but you can't do much about that.