You’ve likely heard of the famous Blarney Stone in Ireland, but do you know why people travel from all over the world to see (and kiss) it?! No one knows for sure what the origins of the stone are (including where it’s “powers” came from), but the tradition has been around for centuries!
Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you’ll get the “gift of gab,” or the ability to speak with eloquence and flattery. In fact, Britain’s most well-known prime minister, Winston Churchill, even paid a visit to the stone! And all of his famous speeches were made AFTER he kissed the stone. Coincidence?
I’m definitely a chatty person, but public speaking isn’t really my forte. Because of this, I’ve always been intrigued by the legend of the stone and couldn’t wait to visit earlier this month on my trip to Ireland, to hopefully get that extra push to give me the true “gift of gab.”
History of Blarney Castle
First, a quick rundown on the history on the Blarney Castle. The original castle was built in the 10th century (which is such a crazy thought) with a wood foundation. A couple centuries later, the castle was redone with a stone foundation (Ireland has an insane amount of limestone). Unfortunately the castle was destroyed in the 1400s from battles, but Cormac MacCarthy, the King of Munster had it rebuilt shortly after. Today, the castle remains, but is considered a partial ruin, as not all of it is fully in tact.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that people began to come to visit Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. Fortunately for us today, those iron bars were put in for safety – years ago visitors would have to be held by their ankles!
Kissing the Blarney Stone
To get to the Blarney Stone you have to make your way to the top (open) floor of the castle. It’s worth noting that you’ll be taking quite a few uneven spiral stone steps to get there! It gets so tight at times that you have to step sideways and grab hold of a rope that goes all the way to the top, for balance. So be sure to wear solid walking shoes!
The view from the top floor of the castle are absolutely stunning. But before you can really take a good look around, you need to decide if you want to kiss the Blarney Stone. And interesting fact – not everyone does! I’ve heard that some people think it’s too unsanitary (which I mean is probably true but we visited on a rainy day so I like to think any germs were washed away), but the biggest thing is the heights.
It’s hard to tell from a picture, but basically there’s a sizable gap between the castle flooring and the wall where the stone is located. There are a couple bars underneath so you’re not 100% exposed when leaning back (along with having an employee there to support your back), but when I laid down and leaned back to kiss the stone, over half of my body was hanging over the edge, AND I had to stretch out and reach pretty far back and down to give it a quick kiss!
While I like roller coasters, I’m generally not a fan of heights. The experience was a little intimidating but at the same time it happened so quickly and my adrenaline was definitely pumping! All in all, I’m really glad I did it!
Exploring the Castle Grounds
After hitting the main attraction (Blarney Stone), we decided to explore a little more of the beautiful castle grounds. One of the most interesting spots we found was the Poison Garden (yes, you read that right) located right behind the castle. The garden was originally used for medicinal and culinary purposes, but today, it acts as an educational garden, showing visitors poisonous types of plants that are commonly found in the wild. One I found particularly interesting? The mandrake. If you’re a fellow Harry Potter fan, you’ll appreciate it too!
We also came across a beautiful mansion, which totally reminded me of Downton Abbey. Unfortunately it was under renovation during our visit, but it didn’t stop us from standing out front to admire it for a while. I mean, can you imagine living in a place like this?!
What do you think – would you kiss the Blarney Stone? Do you believe in the legend?