When I was a little girl, my Dad and my Grandpa used to talk about kissing the Blarney Stone. It’s part of Blarney Castle and kissing it is said to give you the gift of eloquence. Although neither my Dad nor my Grandpa had ever kissed the aforementioned stone, they both had that gift, and their stories about the stone made me resolve to kiss it myself one day. And one day I did – twice. You can read about it here.
Recently, I returned to Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone, and once again I was taken by the beauty of the place. Even if you don’t want to climb the hundred plus steps to get to the Blarney Stone, it’s well worth a visit to see the gorgeous grounds, gardens, castle ruins and Blarney House.
The castle itself is sadly in ruins, but much of it is safely intact. The stairs to get up to the Blarney Stone are very narrow and steep, particularly towards the top. It’s no surprise though, the Blarney stone is a long way up. It can be a little challenging if you are claustrophobic, but the experience and the views really are worth the climb.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone is embedded in the piece of the wall that juts out from the actual tower. The railings you can see at the top are there to stop you from falling as you kiss it! If you do brave the stairs the views out over the countryside are quite amazing. Of course, you have the opportunity to kiss the stone itself. You just lay down on some plastic sheeting (while a strong man holds on to your waist), grab on to the hand rails, pull yourself down over the abyss, and pucker up!
Whether or not it gives you the gift of eloquence, it really is an experience. My first hand advice? Don’t look down!
More Than Just The Castle
After the long climb back down, you can wander in the grounds and take some lovely well signposted walks through the gardens. There are plenty of them – from a Fern Garden to a Bog Garden and even a garden full of poisonous plants, aptly named, The Poison Garden. There’s an interesting short walk around a Rock Close as well. From June to August, you can also visit and tour Blarney House, a mansion built in the castle grounds in 1874.
Blarney House is a beautiful, historic property and is still lived in today. It’s really interesting to see such historic rooms, paintings and artefacts juxtaposed with the owners’ modern day possessions.
The locals will give an embarrassed sigh when you tell them you visited Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone. Some may even say “Did you have to?”, but a visit to this magical place really is not to be missed.
Roughly 8 kilometers from Cork City Centre, Blarney Castle is open all year round (opening times vary). Blarney House is open for tours from 1 June to 31 August. Visit the Castle website for more information and opening times.