Kissing the Blarney Stone

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Europe » Ireland » County Cork » Blarney
May 9th 2010
Published: May 9th 2010
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There is a stone that whoever kisses, Oh! He never misses to grow eloquent, ‘Tis he may clamber to a ladies chamber or become a member of parliament - Francis Sylvester Mahony

Legend has it that those who kiss the Blarney Stone will gain the gift of the gab. In other words, you could charm your way to anything you wanted. Although there are many who don’t need to kiss the stone, over 350,000 visit the castle every year. We thought that it was time that we added to the numbers. Cork has many attractions but it was my ignorance at how close the castle was to the city that kept me from visiting before this. Only 10km’s from the city centre it was surely worth a visit on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

We got to the grounds and luckily Michelle had cash on her as they strangely don’t accept credit cards at the gate. I don’t know why but I’m sure it causes some annoyance to people who expect that cards would be accepted. There are a few different things to see on the grounds and it’s not all about the Blarney Stone. The gardens are beautiful and full of many different types of colourful trees, plants and flowers. First up we made a visit to Rock Close. This is and old druid settlement and a mystical place to walk around. A giant Dolmen appears as you start the walk through Rock Close. A dolmen is a type of single chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more up right stones, supporting a large flat horizontal stone, known as the table. Its size was immense and it is not known whether this one was made by nature or man. Apparently the top stone rocks every now and again! We followed the trail and which led us to the ‘Wishing Steps’. Here we got another typical Irish story about the origins of the steps. Apparently a witch will grant anyone who walks up the steps a wish, as long as they walk back down it backwards with their eyes closed, while only thinking about their one wish. The witch does this in exchange for fire wood, for which she uses to keep a fire going in the ‘Witch’s Kitchen’!

The trail also had a rock that resembled a witch, too much for my liking, and a druids ring that apparently if you stood inside, would protect you from evil spirits and snakes! Michelle thought it was a good idea for me to get on top of the ‘Sacrificial Alter’ for a photo but the more I think about it the more I’m regretting it. Last up was a ‘Fairy Glade’, which I can only presume is where the local Fairies hang out. A sign did warn that they’re mischievous and if we saw one to be careful and don’t believe much they tell us. I think we’d been told a few other fibs along the way as well!

Next up was the castle and of course the Blarney Stone. There are 100 steps up to the stone, all winding up through the castle. Along the way you can visit the many different rooms that fill the castle. My favourite was the murder room. Basically if anyone got through the castle doors there was a room over the door that they could pour boiling water or oil, through stones and generally just annihilate anyone who came through. Imagine having that now for when any unwanted sales man/woman called to the door! Eventually we made it to the stone but the guy who holds you while you kiss it was gone for a toilet break. I did notice that the guy informing everyone of the wait was over-using so called Irish sayings to the foreign tourists. I also thought they were a bit shabbily dressed. Track suit bottoms and gym hoodies didn’t really fit in with the surroundings or their jobs. Maybe I’m just being pedantic but it seemed a bit amateur. I got my kiss anyway and felt all the better for it. You have to lie down on your back and bend backwards over a ledge and kiss the stone while holding onto a railing and a guy holds your waist. Apparently there is only another 10 years of rock kissing left. You see as all the kissing is eroding the rock and soon it will have to be stopped to save the precious stone!

After kissing the rock we walked through the Poison Garden where large signs read, ‘DO NOT EAT ANY OF THE PLANTS OR LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN UNATTENDED’!! On our way out we had a look at Badger Cave which apparently has three passageways leading to a lake, Cork and Kerry. The amount of times I’ve said apparently in this blog! Is anything here true?! As we left the grounds people were still pouring in and were sure to be fascinated by the magical and mystical stories they were about to be told. The stone alone has many different stories, it being Jacob’s pillow (who’s Jacob?), another saying it was a death bed pillow of St. Columbus on the Isle of Iona and used as a prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny. When Cormac McCarthy sent 5000 troops to Scotland to help Robert the Bruce in battle against the English in 1314, a portion of the stone was sent back to Ireland in gratitude. The stories are endless and Google can throw up some more if anyone is interested or even a visit might enlighten people as to the mysteries of the stone.

We finished off the day in a restaurant called Strasbourg Goose where we got two courses for €10. After that we had some Italian ice cream before retreating to our house after another great day out. By the way, I was lying about the stone eroding. I’d been told so maybe fibs I thought I’d throw in one myself.

In a bit. DH

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