A Short Story
It wasn’t the best weather for visiting Blarney Castle, cloudy with off and on drizzle. But on the positive side maybe it would keep the crowds away. It was our only opportunity to visit Blarney on this our first trip to the Emerald Isle and it seemed like a sort of obligation when visiting Ireland to go and kiss the Blarney Stone.
When we got to the castle it was a steady light rain and there was a good line waiting to climb the stairs going up to the top. Blarney Castle is about 115 feet high or about the size of a 13 story modern building. The layout of the castle has two narrow, winding stone steps from the ground level to the top where the Blarney Stone is with only enough width for a single person at a time. One stairs is used to go up, the other down. Before you enter the castle there are signs warning you that if you are not in good enough shape to make the climb, don’t go in. To emphasize the point there was a guide at the door repeating the warning.
In the group ahead of us was an elderly couple (we later learned he was 93) and he assured the guide he was in good shape and could make the climb. About half way through the climb he gave out. With maybe a hundred people behind us and another hundred ahead he sat down and announced he couldn’t go on.
It quickly became obvious that there was no way we were going to get the line behind us to start backing down.We were trapped half way up Blarney Castle. The only hope was to move forward and as the line above us started to open up space ahead several of us started working at carrying him up. Really awkward and it was an effort making just one step at a time. In climbing up there were a couple of small chambers off the stairs and after about twenty stairs we reached one and moved him and his wife inside.
Once at the top the weather was worse. The attendants were in rain coats with umbrellas and we told them what had happened. One said he had been aware of this happening a couple of times in the six years he’d worked at the castle and there was a procedure and they’d take care of the gentleman.
Kissing the stone
As it turned out there was no way to kiss the “stone of eloquence” without getting soaked and while several people went ahead, my wife said I didn’t need any boost to my eloquence and if there was a stone that removed part of the gift that would be the one I should kiss. Besides, someone pointed out that kissing the Blarney Stone was similar to kissing a couple of hundred total strangers…