I don’t remember when I heard about the famed Blarney Stone, but I was probably in elementary school. But do you know WHY the Blarney Stone is famous, and WHY you’re supposed to kiss it? If you’re like me, I didn’t know the WHY either. But that has changed recently. Before I get into the details, let’s me give you a run-down of the history of not only the Blarney Stone, but the castle and grounds that are associated with it.
I suppose you figured out that we’ve visited lovely land of Ireland for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I have to say it was cold, very wet, and windy. Weatherwise, it’s was everything that Spain is not. In short, it was fantastic! There’s something about seeing and hearing the wind and rain dumping down, and being inside. So let’s get to it!
Sidenote: I honestly didn’t know ANY of the details about the place before we visited. I guess I thought that the stone was in a field or something, and that there would be a long line of people waiting in line to pucker up and kiss it. Pretty crazy, huh?!
A bit about the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone is a chunk of stone built into Blarney Castle. The castle is located approximately 5 miles outside of Cork, in County Cork. The castle iss set in the gorgeous green Irish countryside, with a cute little town to explore too. While they’re doing some repairs and upkeep on the grounds, it didn’t affect our tour at all. We started our tour with a goody bag of a guide book, papers, and a small disposable audio tour MP3 player and headphones. One thing I really liked about the tour, was that the learning started before we really even could see the castle itself.
While listening to the history of the castle grounds, and short 100 meter walk, you arrive at the castle itself. It’s pretty impressive medieval castle. There is a ton of information on the origins and creation of the castle on Wikipedia, but I’m going to focus on our experience with the Stone itself.
Once Lars and I were at the castle, we sat down to wait for Heidi and Anya before we went inside. They were busy capturing pictures and video for Anya’s video series, Adventures with Anya. There’s a sign that tells you to look up and you can see where the Blarney Stone is situated in the wall of the castle.
We didn’t really see anything, and we weren’t sure what to look for. Had there been people along the battlements, we would have gotten a clue as to what was in store for us, but since we didn’t know what to look for, we didn’t know what we were looking at.
The Blarney Castle Tour
The girls caught up to us, and we all went into the castle together. All the while, we’re listening to the details about each floor and room in the castle. I have this romantic notion of living in a castle, but the reality is that it was probably REALLY cold in the winter, and REALLY hot in the summer. Not to mention the lack of running water or toilets, and that pretty much dashes the romanticism, doesn’t it?
Now what 15th century castle would be complete without a small, spiral staircase with uneven steps? While it may make it a bit inconvenient for those of us with big feet, the unevenness was actually a deliberate design. It makes stairs much harder to climb for those individuals looking to invade a castle, and climb to the top. There’s one point where the staircase gets really narrow, but eventually we all made it to the top. Whew!
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Once we walk around, it dawns on me what I was looking at from the bottom. We are looking at the Blarney Stone. Or rather, the wall where the Blarney Stone is located.
It’s very hard to describe, but the stone is not easily kissed. It’s necessary to get on your back, and scoot your head towards the wall, and then you sort of drop your head below the level of stone that you’re laying on. It’s easy to see the proper spot to kiss, as the stone has a smooth texture. It’s a bit disconcerting, but a person is there to assist. There are bars that would prevent someone from falling through, but I can see where it may trigger acrophobia. Also, if someone is very short, those feelings may be heightened.
Lars and I gave the Stone a big ol’ smooch (see my video below), and Anya tried to reach, but was not comfortable hanging upside down. While we learned that the Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone, we also learned the legend of what kissing it is supposed to do. Do you know? Being that we were in the Land of the Leprechaun, I figured it had to do with something related to LUCK. But I figured wrong.
It turns out that legend has it that kissing the stone imbues the kisser with great eloquence or skill at flattery. The word blarney has come to mean “clever or flattering talk”. Blarney has been defined as more than just flattery, but sweetened by humor and flavored by wit. So all you tongue-tied single guys out there: Head over to Blarney Castle, give the Stone a kiss, and be prepared to be able to chat up the women! You just have to believe!
Now you know what the Blarney Stone is all about! If you do go visit Blarney Castle, I highly recommend setting aside 3-4 hours or more, as the grounds are huge, and there is a lot to see. It’s a beautiful place to visit. Anya and Heidi discovered a poisonous garden, awesome trees, paths and structures.
P.S. When we visited, the weather was chilly and relatively dry. A week after we visited, the rains poured, and caused some serious flooding.
Just for fun, you get to see me in action.
Alan Kissing the Blarney Stone!
Okay tell me the truth. Have you visited? Would you give it a kiss?
Blarney, Cork, Ireland
Website: Information about Blarney Castle and Gardens
Telephone: 00 353 21 438 5252
Hours (Monday – Saturday):
May: 9:00am to 6.30pm
Jun-Jul-Aug 9:00am to 7:00pm
Sept 9:00am to 6:30pm
Oct-Apr 9:00am to 5:30pm/Sundown
Summer 9:00am to 5:30pm
Winter 9:00am to Sundown
Disclosure: Our visit was hosted by The Blarney Castle, all experiences, thoughts and opinions are our own.