"Blarney- Pucker up!!" Top 5 Page for this destination Blarney by suvanki

Blarney Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 204 photos

Gillybob, Nomad7890 and Suvankis trip to Blarney

During our meal at the Market Lane Restaurant in Cork for Ekaterinburgs 'A Taste Of Cork' VT Meeting, A trip to Blarney next day was suggested.
So, Sunday morning Gillybob (Gillian), Nomad 7890 (Martha) and myself met at the bus station to catch the 10.30 bus to Blarney.

The reason for visiting this village, was to see the Castle, and Kiss The Blarney Stone- The same reason that thousands of others have made the trip over the centuries - (OK, some visited in times gone by to try and grab the castle for themselves)

After climbing up the Castles tower and Kissing The Blarney Stone, we strolled around The Rock Close. A trail through ancient woodlands, where rock formations have stood since pre-historic times.
The rain was becoming more persistant, so we left, without seeing the Lake.
Martha had to catch the bus back to Cork, then the airport for her flight home, Gillybob and I headed in search of food!

Blarney has many hotels, cafes and restaurants. ( including a Thai, an Italian and an Indian). The Muskerry Arms pub had more traditional fare!
We were joined for lunch by Dao, who'd arrived from Cork.

Fortified by a hot meal, and 'a drop of the Black Stuff' we set off to explore Blarney.

Blarney Woollen Mills had been recommended as the place to shop for gifts. A place not just for the thousands of tourists who throng through its doors, looking for a 'piece of Ireland' to take away, but also for Corkonians, looking for quality (expensive) clothes and household goods.

Next stop was a look around the churchyard of the Village Church overlooking the Village Green. This was accompanied by the eerie effect of hundreds of black crows circling overhead - not unlike Hitchcocks, 'The Birds'
The bus had arrived from Cork, so we still had about 15 minutes before it departed, and watched it head over the hill.

So we strolled around the Village Green. We were a bit surprised to see the bus returning, but still had 10 minutes before it was due to leave for Cork. Sunday in Ireland, surely the driver would be parked up, chatting to the locals about the weather, sport etc. Nope, he was heading 'Hell for Leather' back to 'The City' Apparently, it's not unusual for this bus to leave early on a Sunday afternoon!!

Only one thing for it - Back to the pub! This time we found a seat by an open fire. Lovely! A chance to get warm, and dry our clothing. Oh and enjoy a drink! -Gillybob opted for a coffee, I didn't want to mix my drinks, so had another glass of the drink 'That is Good for You'!
We whiled away the2 hours looking at the sporting memorabillia displayed on the pubs walls, and watching Football on TV, whilst listening to the commentary of the Hurling Championships, being played down the road in Cork. We were there to hear the final result - Blarney were bringing home the trophy! It had been 70 years since they last won the final. So with Munster having won their Rugby match earlier (we saw that match over lunch) there was to be much to celebrate!
I'd been surprised to find that Gillybob supported the same football (soccer) team as me - Sheffield United - or t'Blades!. They were playing that same day in our city derby match against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. I'd asked a couple of young lads who were watching a match on TV if the Wed V Utd match would be shown, he said that it had been on earlier. I asked the result, then wish that I hadn't -we'd been beaten (Robbed!) 1-0. Ah well there's always the rematch next month!
We decided to set out for the bus early this time- it was on time, and we headed back to Cork.
Gillybob and I said our 'Good-byes' at the bus station, as she was heading back to the airport. We'd be meeting up soon again in Manchester for her 'Manchester Christmas Markets VT meet'

I'd had a good time in Blarney and was pleased that I'd been there.

The Blarney Stone

What is it that compels visitors from all over the globe, to head for the village of Blarney, climb the 277 steps of its castles narrow spiral staircase. Then on reaching the top of its 80 ft tower, queue for the chance to hang upside down and kiss a 4ft x 1ft lump of bluestone (limestone)? Well I'm not sure - 'Because it's there'? Because it's one of those '100 Things To Do Before You Die'?
Because you're certain to gain the gift of eloquence?

Whatever the reason, over 200,000 visitors go through this ritual each year!

It is uncertain as to the origins of this stone, but there are many versions-

1. The stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert Bruce following the Battle of Bannockburn. (This is the most commonly believed)
McCarthy had supplied Bruce with 4,000 fighting men from Munster. To re-pay the debt Bruce gave McCarthy half the "Stone of Scone." This particular half was part of the crowning ceremony for Kings of Scotland (it was also known as the "Stone of Destiny"); the other half is said to be located in England's Westminster Abbey. It was believed to have magical powers.

or this variation -

It may have once been the Coronation Stone of Scottish monarchs and later used by St. Columba as a traveling altar during his missionary activities throughout Scotland. After Columba’s death it had been brought to Ireland where it served as the Stone of Destiny. It's also been attributed to the pillow that Columba rested his head on his death bed.

2. The stone is from the bible ("Jacob's Pillow"), and was brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah during the crusades. It became the Lia Fail, or ‘Fatal Stone’ and was used as an oracular throne of the Irish kings.

3. Cormac McCarthy rescued a drowning witch. To show her gratitude, she gave him this magical stone with its powers of eloquence for all who kissed it.

4. It was the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt.

5. It was the Stone of Ezel, which David hid behind on Jonathan's advice, while fleeing from King Saul, arriving in Ireland during the Crusades.

There are also those who state that the stone kissed by visitors isn't the original Blarney Stone, including archeologist and architectural historian Mark Samuel.Link to newspaper article Was the stone kissing site moved for Health and Safety reasons?

So these are some reasons on how the stone got here, but why kiss it?

To kiss the Blarney Stone is said to bring about a charm on the kisser, to bestow upon them a silver tongue with which to spin tales and songs to mesmerize others. A strong part of Irish culture, is the telling of stories, with those being particularly gifted, gaining respect in their community, which makes gaining these skills by magic an attractive idea.

More legends:
Back to the witch! As reward for rescue from drowning, she promised a spell to give him a gift of speech so powerful he could win allies to his cause.
He had to climb to the top of Blarney castle and kiss a particular stone for the spell to take effect.

Even if Cormac kissed the stone, Why did others follow the practice?

The ritual has been immortalised in the poem of Francis Sylvestor Mahoney aka Father Prout (19th C) (He of Shandon Bells Fame!)

There is a stone there, that whoever kisses,
Oh! He never misses to grow eloquent:
'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,
Or become a member of Parliament.

'This is all Blarney'

Blarney apparently entered the English language, courtesy of Queen Elizabeth 1 in exasperation with Cormac Mac Carthy. Again there are variations on this legend

During the reformation, Queen Elizabeth aimed to gain a greater control over the Irish chiefs, by regaining their castles and land. (Another version states 'by renouncing the traditional way that Irish clans elected their chieftan'.)

Carew, The Earl of Leicester was commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to take possession of Blarney castle. Whenever he endeavoured to negotiate the matter, McCarthy always suggested a banquet or some other form of delay. (Cormac was well practiced in the use of plamas- an Irish term for offering 'excessive or insincere praise or flattery')
When the queen asked for progress reports, a long missive was sent, at the end of which the castle remained untaken. Carew became a figure of fun. The Queen was said to be so irritated that she declared "This is all Blarney, he never means what he says, he never does what he promises'

Another version being -"Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!"

Over the years, Blarney has meant many things -
'Pursuasive talk designed to deceive, but not cause offence'

'A fine flow of eloquence, with just a touch of good humoured exaggeration'

'The ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without giving offense'.

'Ability to talk constantly''.

Mindless chatter'.

and my favourite -

'Persuasive flattery or kind speech. The ability to tell a man to go to hell, in such a way as he will look forward to the trip.' !!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small Irish Village- Good pub, A Castle! and near Cork
  • Cons:Tourist magnet- could get overcrowded in summer
  • In a nutshell:Good day out despite the rain!
  • Last visit to Blarney: Oct 2008
  • Intro Updated Nov 18, 2008
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Reviews (22)

Comments (4)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Hello, Sue! The place is amazing indeed! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jan 21, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Hi Sue, these are really interesting tips about the castle and what life must have been like for the people who lived there. I never imagined there would be such an elaborate procedure involved in kissing the Blarney Stone.

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2009 at 2:39 AM

    Fantastic page. I gave up on the stones because of the rain. Glad you did the tour of them. Great research! Yes, I did rate them. Welcome to the top 100.

  • scottishvisitor's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2008 at 1:00 PM

    Loved the humour in your Blarney page :) If you kissed the stone once I would see no need to prolong the agony but the slippery steps would not be on my wish list = thanks for the virtual tour!!

suvanki

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