It’s entirely natural to assume that because Cork is a relatively small city and because it is surrounded by so much open countryside, then a hire car would be essential.
James says - a few trip notes:
I briefly visited Cork in 2007, and picked up a hire car at Cork International airport. I drove west towards the Ring of Kerry.
A hire car in Cork is still extremely useful. However, if you are visiting Cork and you are unsure about whether or not to hire a car, it certainly worth having another think.
Cork is well known further having so many great pubs, and staying within the city and walking around or using taxis and local buses might be more than enough.
Cycling in Cork
Do you need a car in Cork? For a short city break, a hire car is far from necessary. However, that should be obvious enough. If you want to stay here longer, or if you want to see beyond the city, then your options are limited if you are just using public transport. Although Cork is nothing like as “car focussed” as some visitors might expect, this is still a “car” destination.