Everyone tells you that you have to visit Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone when you visit Ireland. So guess what, I did! On my recent trip to Ireland, I took the time to head down to Cork from Dublin to visit this famous Irish stone! It is a super popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world! During my visit, I found out about the Blarney Stone legend, the extensive Blarney Castle history, and the most important question, why do people kiss the Blarney Stone?
Where is the Blarney Stone in Ireland?
The Blarney Stone, which is located at Blarney Castle, is 5 miles (8 km) northwest from the city of Cork in the South of Ireland. As Ireland is well connected by train, it’s not a difficult trip if you’re coming from the capital city of Dublin as I did. It’s about two hours and a 45-minute drive by car and a two and a half-hour ride by a direct train. The train can be a little pricey, so if you’re looking for a budget way to go, then check into a bus.
Getting from Cork to Blarney Castle
Once you’re in Cork, then it’s just a short bus ride to get to Blarney Castle. You’ll arrive at Cork’s only train station, Kent, and from there, you can walk to the bus station (10-minute easy walk of a half-mile). You then take the 215 bus to Blarney, which is about 25 minutes each way, and two buses run each hour. The 215 bus drops you off near the gates of Blarney Castle, and tickets can be purchased on the bus.
Now that you know how to get from Cork to Blarney Castle let me tell you a bit about this wondrous place! It’s gorgeous and everything you think a castle should be! I loved that it was on a sizable amount of land and not super commercialized like some other places I’ve been to.
Blarney Castle History
Blarney Castle, as it is today, is the third to have been erected on this site. The first was a wooden structure built in the 10th century. Around 1210 A.D., it was replaced by a stone structure that 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, the King of Munster, of which only the keep remains standing.
What Does ‘Blarney’ Mean?
The word blarney means “clever, flattering, or coaxing talk,” as many Irish are famous for this; it’s little surprise they have their own Irish stone for it. The Irish politician John O’Connor Power defined it this way: “Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience.”
Visiting the Blarney Stone in Ireland
I recommend waiting in line to kiss the Blarney 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! To get to the Blarney Stone, you have to go up narrow stone steps that are windy with lots of twists and turns. If you’re not a fan of enclosed spaces like this, then you may want to pass on visiting the Blarney Stone.
The Blarney Stone Legend
For over 200 years, millions of people have climbed the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone due to its legend. However, this legend has a few interpretations. Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. It then becomes the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone,’ which was used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings.
Another legend says that the stone was the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Then was moved to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny. Then in 1314, Robert the Bruce gave a portion of the historic Stone to Cormac MacCarthy, the King of Munster, in gratitude for his help defeating the English at Bannockburn.
Yet another legend says that it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel.’ While a few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses. And that’s just some of the stories flowing around this mystical stone!
Whatever the truth of its origin, it’s believed a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys.
Why Do People Kiss the Blarney Stone?
Good question! Since reportedly millions of people have done it, why do people kiss the Blarney Stone? According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone gives the kisser with the gift of the gab (aka eloquence or skill at flattery).
This particular “magical” stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. Since then, everyone from politicians to literary legends to famous actors and actresses have kissed this stone!
However, you should know that kissing the Blarney Stone is no easy task. To do so, you have to go up that spiral staircase and then lean over backward on the parapet’s edge. Luckily, there is someone who works at Blarney Castle that is there to help as well as wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars.
Before these safeguards were installed in 1897, it was perilous to kiss the stone. People would be held by their ankles to achieve the kiss. It was so dangerous that there’s a Sherlock Holmes radio drama about it!
In the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone,” which was broadcast in 1946, a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. Holmes then investigates and reveals this as a murder, as the man’s boots were greased before the attempt.
What Else is There to See?
The Blarney Stone isn’t the only thing to see on the estate at Blarney Castle! They put on several events, so check online before you go to see what’s coming up. I, unfortunately, I missed a reenactment, I love those, of Sherlock Holmes, “The Hounds of Baskerville”! I was so sad that I was too early for it!
You can also visit the badger’s cave, the court, the dungeon, the witch stone, the estate, the battlements, the wishing steps, the witch’s kitchen, the lake, and the north wall—all of which you can find more information about here on their official website.
Planning Your Visit to the Blarney Stone in Ireland
Now that I’ve got you excited to kiss the Blarney Stone and take a stroll around Blarney Castle, let me give you some information on planning your visit! Their official recommendation is 3 hours to visit both the Blarney Castle and Gardens. I think this is a pretty good estimate based on my experience.
You should buy your Blarney Castle tickets in advance as you can then take advantage of their online discount. The admission price does not include an audio guide; they are €6 and available in English. There are Blarney Castle maps, however, which are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese.
Blarney Castle Tickets – 2020
|Adult Admission||€16 (Normally €18)|
|Student/Seniors||€13 (Normally €14)|
|Children (8-16 years / under 8 free)||€7 (Normally €8)|
|Family (2 adults + 2 children)||€40 (Normally €45)|
|Souvenir Audio Guide||€6|
Blarney Castle Hours – 2020
|Jan – Feb||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|Mar – Apr||9.00am to 6.00pm (Last Admission 5.00pm)|
|May||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|June – Aug||9.00am to 5.30pm (Last Admission 4.30pm)|
|Sept||9.00am to 6.30pm (Last Admission 5.30pm)|
|Oct||9.00am to 6.00pm (Last Admission 5.00pm)|
|Nov – Dec||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
Exception: They are closed on the 24th and 25th of December.
|Sundays & Bank Holidays|
|Nov – Feb||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
|Mar – Oct||9.00am to 5.00pm (Last Admission 4.00pm)|
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