When you have a limited number of days to visit a country you just keep going, even when the weather turns foul. Such was the case when we traveled to Blarney Castle. Not so much cold but a good on and off drizzle. I’m still not sure what brought us to pick Blarney over a dozen other famous Irish castles but I think it was the name recognition more than anything. The bonus in picking Blarney was also going to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone but I was warned that the last thing I needed was to increase my “gift of gab”.
Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in the town of Blarney, near Cork, Ireland. The keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty in 1446. The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone.
The entrance to the property is well laid out and there is a nice stream flowing through the estate. The gardens surrounding the property are worth a visit provided the weather is accommodating and there are also a number of interesting out buildings and exhibits.
The castle itself stands about ninety feet tall with the interior mostly gutted. Upon entering the castle you find yourself standing in the cellar and looking up through the grand hall with its floor completely missing. You can see the stone supports that used to hold the floor just below the halls fireplace with remains of the two story vaulted ceiling above that
Getting to the top of the castle where the Stone of Eloquence is located is a climb up a narrow stone spiral staircase with only enough room for one person at a time to ascend. Before you start your climb they stress that it is a one-way climb (descent is by another narrow staircase) and once you start you cannot back down, so make sure you are up to the climb.
As we ascended there were a number of small chambers off the stairs as well as defensive slits for fighting off attackers. Once we reached the top there was a pretty steady rain falling but people were still laying on their backs to stick their heads out to kiss the stone. There are two guides there helping those who want to kiss the stone. By that time I wasn’t keen on going through with kissing the stone in a pouring rain and had additional concerns that I didn’t have enough sanitizer with me considering the number of people that preceded us.
Once back down and wet we headed off to find a pub and an Irish Coffee. In the center of the town we found the Muskerry Arms – cozy, friendly and makers of great Irish Coffees.
Besides the castle the village of Blarney was home to the Blarney Woollen Mills built in 1823. In its day it was known throughout the region for spinning and weaving high quality wool. The mill closed in 1973 after which it was re-opened as an Irish heritage shop appealing to castle visitors.