04 Mar Kissing the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Castle, an ancient medieval fortress located in Cork, Ireland, is a famous Irish landmark that attracts millions of tourist each year, and is a must-do attraction while visiting the island. Actually, the Discovery Channel had named it one of the 99 places you must visit before you die, and according to VisitIreland.com around 200,000 visitors come each year to etch a tick off of their bucket list. The actual castle that stands there today is the third constructed over a span of more than 600 years. The first castle was actually made from wood and used as a timber lodge in the 10th century until it was converted into stone in 1210. It wasn’t until 1446 that King Dermot McCarthy revamped the entire castle by demolishing the foundations, and expanding the castle to what it is today. During the reconstruction, King Dermot McCarthy ordered the famous Blarney Stone to be built into the wall, and has been kissed by visitors ever since.
The Blarney stone was originally a gift to Cormac McCarthy from Robert the Bruce of Scotland because McCarthy had allotted 5,000 men to help Robert defeat England at the Battle of Bannockburn. Thus as legend has it, for his alliance, Bruce presented half of the sacred Stone of Destiny or the Stone of Scone to McCarthy that later became known as the Blarney stone. The name change to the Blarney Stone is also is derived from a myth. Supposedly Queen Elizabeth told Cormac McCarthy that he was to be stripped and seized of his lands by the English crown. McCarthy constantly provoked delays in the commission to seize his land, and the Queen was reportedly annoyed with the slow delay stating that the Earls reports were all ‘Blarney’. Thus, is said that this stone contains magical powers, bestowing upon those who kiss it the gift of eloquence or ‘the gift of gab’. To kiss the stone, the visitor must be lying on their back, and kiss the bottom of the stone at the parapet’s edge while holding on to two metal retention bars.
Interestingly enough, before the retention bars and other safety measures were put in place, visitors would dangle freely or be held by the ankles while kissing the stone. This dangerous feat was immortalized into a fictional story in Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Blarney Stone, produced on the radio in 1946. As the plot goes, a man who tried to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. However, it was no accident, his boots were greased before being dangled to kiss the stone and Sherlock Holmes had to discover the culprit.
The castle has changed many hands over the centuries after Dermot McCarthy was owner but the legend of the Blarney Stone never died. It reaches far and wide, and as you can see it has even been able to make its way into popular culture. This attraction is beloved by most visitors due to its rich history and mythical tales, and highly recommended as a must-see attraction while visiting Ireland.