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Everyone tells you that you have to visit Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. So guess what, I did! I may have spent some time romancing the Blarney Stone in Cork, Ireland.
To get there from Dublin I took a train to Cork, it was a bit pricey, then a bus from Cork to Blarney. I do think it was totally worth it! It’s gorgeous and everything you think a castle should be! I loved that it was on a decent amount of land. Not super commercialized.
A Bit of Castle History
Blarney Castle, as it is today, is the third to have been erected on this site. The first, in the 10th century, was a wooden structure. Around 1210 A.D. it was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face. This building was demolished for foundations. In 1446 the third castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster of which the keep still remains standing.
The Blarney Stone
I definitely recommend waiting in line to kiss the stone. It’ll take a little while but it’s something you’ll regret doing if you don’t. It’s one of those things you have to do cause you’re there. When in Rome! Mind the spiral staircase though! It has narrow stone steps and is windy, lots of twists and turns. Blarney Castle puts on events as well, so check online before you go to see what’s coming up. I unfortunately, missed a reenactment, told you I love those, of “The Hounds of Baskerville”!!! I was so sad that I was too early for it!
Millions of Visitors
For over 200 years, millions of people have climbed the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. Today, it’s more cautious of the safety of visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk.
Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.
When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland.
Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.
Whatever the truth of its origin, they believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys.