A visit to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone is one of the must-do items on the itineraries of many visitors to Ireland.
When people smootch the Stone, they are following in the footsteps of famous people from the worlds of film, literature, music and politics. Famous visitors who puckered up at Castle Blarney include Winston Churchill, Sir Walter Scott and Mick Jagger.
Often when people tell their friends and relatives that they have vacationed in Ireland, the first question they get asked is "Did you kiss the Blarney Stone?"
According to legend, those who kiss it will be given the power of eloquence, more commonly called "the gift of the gab."
Nobody is quite clear as to why the Blarney Stone has this property, or when it was first thought to confer this ability. It is not even certain where the stone came from, or why it was introduced to Blarney Castle.
Many people think the stone is part of the Stone of Destiny, a Scottish stone that was important in the succession to the Scottish Throne.
The story goes that Robert the Bruce gave the stone to the King of Munster as a thank you for him sending troops to support Bruce in the Battle of Bannockburn.
Another legend holds that an old woman was saved from drowning by the King of Munster. She then granted him a spell which would grant him the power of speech, winning his subjects to his will, provided he kiss a stone at the top of Blarney Castle.
For some people who have long cherished a desire to kiss the Blarney Stone, their anticipation and excitement turns to sheer terror when they realize it’s not quite as simple as it may sound.
To kiss the Blarney stone you must lie on your back. You then extend your arms behind your head and grip two vertical bars.
Next you drop your head down and backwards, so that you can kiss the stone, which will be between your two hands.
All of this is done at around 90ft above the ground.
Some people arrive, look down and then decide this is not for them, so if you do chicken out, don't worry. It's all just a bit of fun, so there will be no pressure on you to complete the kiss.
It is also worth noting that to get to the top of the battlements in which the stone is set, you are going to have quite a climb (100 steps in total), so if you have any problems with mobility, you might want to give this a miss.
If an opportunity to kiss the blarney stone is on your personal bucket list (it definitely was for me), you will fine it in the battlements of Blarney Castle.
The castle is just outside the village of Blarney in County Cork, just a few miles from Cork city.
There are regular public bus services between the city and Blarney. If you do plan to visit the Blarney Stone, I would strongly recommend allowing about half a day for the trip.
Apart from the stone, there are beautiful gardens and woodlands within the castle grounds, and these are well worth exploring.
There is also a very attractive lake in the grounds, where
you may be able to spot the otters that live there. Also, keep an eye out for the native red
squirrels in the woods.
Access to the gardens is included in your admission fee. The castle and grounds are open all year round, but the attraction can get very busy in the summer time.
If you are visiting at peak periods, you may want to allow more time for the trip. You can, of course, opt to stay in or near the village.
The village of Blarney is very picturesque, and a pleasant place to stroll around. If you do stay there, you can enjoy traditional Irish music in a local hostelry at nighttime.
An opportunity to kiss the blarney stone is an opportunity to tell personal stories of Ireland, and express your Irish side, forever more!
And there are many examples and opportunities like this. To see them, just visit our section on Ireland Travel Destinations here!
You might also want to learn more about Blarney Castle, and many other Irish castles in our Ireland Castle Vacations segment here.
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