For many starting their day with a 'top 'o the mornin' to ya!' in Ireland, Blarney Castle is usually on the list of must-visit places. Over the years, this top tourist spot - not only in Ireland but in the entirety of Europe, as a whole - has gained somewhat of a reputation. While the castle itself spans back to 1446, the idea of kissing the Blarney Stone is one that does span back centuries.
If the idea of having someone steady one's back in order to bend over backward (literally) isn't an idea that sparks much excitement, it's one that shouldn't necessarily be ruled out quite yet. Kissing the Blarney Stone might not be an activity that appeals to everyone, but visiting the castle itself? Now, that's an entirely different story... and the reward of Blarney Stone kiss might just win visitors over in the end.
The Significance Of Kissing The Blarney Stone
While many people believe that kissing the Blarney Stone will reward them with good luck (something that can be found in many ways among the emerald fields of Ireland), it actually serves another purpose. According to History, it's believed that doing so will reward the adventurous visitor with 'eloquence and persuasiveness.' Thus, it begs this next question: Why is the Blarney Stone so important, and what has given it such a grandiose reputation among anyone who visits?
The Various Legendary Origins Of The Blarney Stone
There are several origin stories for the appearance of the Blarney Stone. One legend claims that it was brought to Ireland during the Crusades, giving it a hefty historic and spiritual significance. Another legend lays claim that the composition of the Blarney Stone is the same that makes up the pillars at Stonehenge, giving it an air of mystery and connecting the two points.
According to royal theories, some legends claim that the stone came from one of two sources. The first legend connects it to the Stone of Scone, which also went by the name 'Stone of Destiny,' used by Scottish and English monarchs during coronations for centuries. The second legend draws a link from being a gift to Cormac McCarthy, king of Munster, from the king of Scots, Robert the Bruce, as a thank-you.
The truth, however, lies in the scientific composition of the stone. Through this, experts have been able to determine that the rock actually hails from Southern Ireland.
- Fact: The limestone that makes up the Blarney Stone is estimated to be 330 million years old.
The name of the stone, however, is far less of a mystery. It's said that the name was inspired by Queen Elizabeth I who, in England's attempt to seize Blarney Castle (as it was not known then), accused the reports from the earl responsible for the seizing to be 'blarney.'
So, Is A Visit To Blarney Castle And The Blarney Stone Worth It?
In short, the answer is an overwhelming yes. What many visitors don't realize before making the trip to Blarney Castle is that it was actually rebuilt three times, with the original (timber) castle having stood in the same place sometime before 1200. This history, alone, is worth seeing in person for those visiting the area of Cork. Additionally, visitors will be treated to the grounds on which the castle sits. These are home to 60 acres of incredible gardens, as well as the only poison garden in Ireland. While Alnwick Castle is home to the most well-known poison garden in the U.K., Blarney Castle's isn't too shabby, featuring:
If toxic plant species aren't interesting enough to gain one's attention, then perhaps the 'Murder Hole' will be. As it turns out, Blarney Castle has somewhat of a dark history, and that history included trapping enemies in a lower quarter before pouring boiling liquids on them. This area is blocked off (for obvious reasons) but visitors can still see the general premises on the second floor.
Additionally, the 'Witch's Kitchen' is another point of interest for visitors. It's home to an aul stone, but it's also believed that the first cave-dwellers in Ireland made their home here. The dungeon is also a unique area of Blarney Castle that can be toured, and it's home to a number of various chambers that had different purposes depending on the time period.
Not every area of Blarney Castle is home to a dark past, though. Many people are intrigued by the 'Wishing Steps,' which can be found in the area of 'Rock Close.' The legend says that whoever can walk down the steps with their eyes closed will have their wish granted within one year of making it.
And, of course, there's the Blarney Stone, itself. While this is something some might think is overrated, that really depends on the visitor, themselves. It is an experience, though, as those attempting to kiss the stone will have their ankles held while they bend over backward to kiss the stone. For those who believe in the powers of such a century's old artifact, it's worth the effort to be rewarded with eloquence and the gift of gab.
- Fun Fact: Winston Churchill once kissed the Blarney Stone, so it could be argued that kissing the stone does, indeed, instill special gifts within oneself.
Blarney Castle: Details
- Admission: Adults €16 | Children (8-16) €7 | Seniors & Students €13
- Hours: Daily from 9 AM - 4 PM