The Magical Blarney Stone & The Gift of Gab
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone has been performed by “millions of people”, including “famous statesmen, literary giants and legends of the silver screen” according to the castle keepers. The kiss actually is not an easy task. Kissing the stone, requires you to climb to the castle’s peak, get on your back only after leaning over backwards at the edge with four stories of air beneath while being supported by a couple of assistants. Although the parapet is now fitted with wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars, the ritual has been known to still trigger panic attacks.
According to legend, the Blarney Stone itself had previously been in Ireland, but was taken to Scotland and later presented to Cormac MacCarthy, the King of Desmond, by none other than King Robert the Bruce of Scotland. This enchanted stone was presented to McCarthy as a token for his assistance in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where in June Robert the Bruce won a victory over the army of King Edward II of England in the First War of Scottish Independence.
Blarney castle originally dates from before 1200, when a timber house was built on the site. Around 1210 it was replaced by the first stone fortification. That castle was destroyed in 1446 but subsequently rebuilt by Dermot MacCarthy incorporating the “stone” in the castle’s parapet. The legend of the stone probably began with Dermot who was noted in Ireland for his eloquence and this is where the Blarney Stone seems to get its reputation for bestowing the gift of gab upon those who kiss it.
Blarney Castle was purchased by Sir James St John Jefferyes, Governor of Cork City, in the early 18th century. In the mid 19th century, the Jefferys and Colthrust families were joined by a marital alliance, and the Colthurst family still holds title and operates the castle today.
Getting To Blarney
Visiting Blarney on a trip to Ireland is almost like a pilgrimage and there are a number of good travel options. From Dublin driving it’s about a three hour trip taking the M7 and M8. While train service is available the trip will take at least four hours each way.
If you’re on a cruise that docks in Cobh the train station is right next to the pier. To get from Cobh to Blarney Castle take the train from Cobh to Cork and switch to the 215 bus at Saint Patrick’s Quay. Service runs often and the trip takes less than an hour and a half with a cost of €20 – €30 each way.
Visiting Blarney Castle
Normal admission is €18 and allows visiting the castle, the surrounding buildings, the entire gardens, mystical rock close gardens, dungeons, caves and the lake walk.
Climbing the castle to the top and the “Stone” uses a narrow, one-way, one person steep staircase with another staircase used for decent. If you are not in good shape do not attempt the climb as there is virtually no way to remove you without emptying the four story staircase.
More To See In Blarney Village
Blarney Woollen Mills – Once a small souvenir shop in a thatched cottage on wheels it is now the largest Irish store in the World. Located in the small village of Blarney next to the castle parking lot the Blarney Woollen Mill now occupies a space of 60,000 square
Muskerry Arms is a charming Irish Pub and restaurant located just across the square from the Blarney Woollen Mill. Take a moment and down a pint or enjoy an Irish Coffee.
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