While staying in Dublin, we took a day trip out to Blarney Castle. Actually the day trip was on a train that took us to southern Ireland. Blarney Castle was one stop along the way.
Blarney Castle is next door to a charming shopping store call Blarney Woolen Mills. We visited the castle, then went to across the street for lunch and shopping. The store offered all things Irish and was amazing.
I really wasn’t too sure what to expect at Blarney Castle. I am so used to English castles that I half thought I would see another of those. This however was more ruins than castle. The walls, some floors and stairs still stand, but some floors and ceiling are long gone. The remaining stone is interesting as you can see carvings in some parts, and the placards fill in any missing information.
Built in 1446, this is the third dwelling to be erected on this site. Part of the 1446 structure still remains. The castle was built to protect the inhabitants. From the entry, there was a grate overhead from which one could shoot arrows or pour hot liquids on the visitors if they were not welcome.
There are three stories of the castle remaining. The stairwells are like those in a light house: narrow and lit only by windows. Once you get to the top, you stand in line to kiss the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone was a gift from Robert the Bruce to Cormac McCarthy. At the time it was half of what was known as the Stone of Scone.
We were lucky and only had a short line. However, during peak tourist season, I can not imagine being stuck in the stairwell waiting to kiss the stone.
The Blarney Stone is supposed to give the gift of gab or eloquence to those that kiss it. One story goes that the queen expected the castle be turned over to her by the owner. Every time she tried to collect he would sweet talk her and buy himself more time. She finally called his responses all Blarney.
We were told that there is a small fragment of the Blarney Stone at Texas Tech University. And sure enough, it is true!
To kiss the Blarney Stone, not only must one wait in a long line, but one must also hang upside down over an open area in the stone wall and floor. The stone is built into the battlements of the castle. This is several feet in the air, maybe 40 or 50. They have added two metal bars to keep you from falling through, but if you have things in your pockets, they could go! There are also two hand rails you can use to guide yourself. A person is also there to assist, as well as a photographer to capture the moment. I really thought I would get dizzy, so I had to decline the opportunity. My nephew, however, was game.
The grounds had been hit by a hurricane not long before we arrived, so trees had fallen and the grounds were not at their best. But it was lovely all the same. I would enjoy getting to walk the grounds on a sunny day.
It really was interesting to see the castle, and kissing the Blarney Stone is such a bucket list thing to do! The trip was quite the adventure that I would recommend!