The 15th century Blarney Castle is famous for the "Blarney Stone" which is set in the top of the castle. The origin of the stone has many myths, but the two most popular are that it was either brought back from the Holy Land by crusaders, or it could have been part of Scotland's royal Stone of Scone. It is now a place of pilgrimage for tourist who climb the steps to receive "the gift of gab" by kissing the stone. The tradition goes back to the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I declared that the words of Cormac MacCarthy, Lord of Blarney Castle, were nothing but "blarney"
I've wanted to kiss the Blarney stone for quite a while now. Last year when I went to Northern Ireland I was bummed I couldn't go because it was just too far away. So this time around we were definitely making a stop! I couldn't wait! Ryan, however, claimed that he wouldn't kiss the stone. He thought that it was gross to kiss an old dirty stone that has been kissed by that many people. So dramatic!
Crossing the bridge to get to the castle, the grounds were beautiful
“Blarney Stone at top of Castle”
Entrance to a few of the caves underneath Blarney
Climbing through the dark, damp tunnels
It got pretty narrow; you were almost crawling at some points. I was definitely not dressed for climbing through caves!
At the end of the tunnel, they think that it was created by someone trying to sneak into the castle and when they got to this point they either got caught, gave up, or were unable to get through
The watch tower
Half way up the castle, the stone is all the way up at the top
Climbing the narrow, winding, slippery stairs with the rope as our guide. The stairway is also where the line to the stone starts. So not only are you in a tiny little stairway but you have people packed in there! Not a good place if you’re clausterphobic! I was fine until the lady in front of me said “I hope I can make it up” as she slipped..
KISSING THE BLARNEY STONE
Here is an idea of how far up you are when you are dangling over the edge of the castle
And here is a shot of the Castle from the bottom. In the center of the wall all the way up on the very top you can see the opening…This is where they grab you by your legs and you lean out belly up and head back to kiss the mystical Blarney Stone!
As we were waiting in line to kiss the stone I thought that Ryan would change his mind. No such luck. I’m not sure how you go all the way to Ireland and are standing in the Blarney Castle and don’t kiss it!!! At least he was my photographer. They only allow people to stand in one spot to take a picture so you don’t get in the way of their camera but Ryan did great. He was practicing taking pictures of the people in front of us! I mostly think he didn’t want to have to wait in line and do it all over again if he missed the shot!
When it was almost my turn I started to get a little worried…not because it look scary (which it did) but because I wasn’t sure where I was actually supposed to be kissing!! Everyone that I was watching was kissing up high on the stone and in random places and heights. So after the grumpy Irish guide showed me where it was it was my turn!
Getting ready, I didn’t realize how far down you have to lean and how far over the wall is!
“The stone this is, whoever kisses,
He never misses to grow eloquent
‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber,
Or be a member of Parliament”
Finished..it was such a rush! I was totally shaking after they pulled me back up (and laughing as you can see in the picture). I was a little worried about walking back down the staircase with shaky legs!
The line at the top, and the stone straight across from me. Luckily the line didn’t take too long
The stairs on the way back down
The “murder hole” where unwanted visitors would be hit with aarows, rocks, or boiling liquids
The neatest tree at Rock Close Gardens around the castle
Estate where the family that owns Blarney Castle still lives
On our way out we found some more caves to explore
I love the castles and the history and Ryan loves the caves and the climbing so it was a good mix of both
This cave was much taller, but also very wet, I’m shocked neither of us got dirty!
After our visit to the castle we headed to a pub for lunch before hitting the road. The roads in Ireland are crazy. First, there are NO street signs. Anywhere. Even when we stopped to ask, no one knew the names of any of their streets. It was a mirical that we didn’t get more lost! Second, they were so narrow!! There were a few streets where we were hitting the bushes next to us, and only inches from the car passing us who was also in the bushes! Here are a few pictures I tried taking while driving but I’m not sure if it shows just how scary, albeit pretty, it was!!
We were off the our next destination: Dingle Penninsula