Blarney, a little village situated 5 miles from Cork is home to Blarney Castle. Dating back to early 1200AD, this was originally just a wooden structure but has been replaced by stone many times and was home to The famous McCarthy Clan, lead by Cormac McCarthy, the then King of Munster. It was a powerful stronghold during battles and came under attack in 1646 when Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland. The castle grounds and Rock Close are worth a visit. Rock Close is a magical place where huge Yew and Oak trees grow around an ancient druid’s settlement. Following the trail leads you on to a dolmen, wishing steps and a witch’s kitchen and below the castle there are still caves to be found.
The castle is now a partial ruin but some of the rooms are still accessible to the public and you can climb the 127 steps to the top where you will find the Blarney Stone. Set into the original tower of Blarney Castle and commanding a breathtaking view of the countryside below, it is part of Ireland’s folklore and attracts many thousands of visitors each year. Although mystery surrounds its exact origin, it is believed to have been part of a stone given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert De Bruce when he helped to defeat the English in the Battle of Bannuckburn in 1314 and set into the tower of the castle when it was rebuilt in the year 1446.
There are many stories surrounding The Blarney Stone and many believe that when kissed a special gift is bestowed. It is also known as the Stone of Eloquence, as it is believed to bestow a gift of speech, otherwise known as the Gift of the Blarney or even “The Gift of the Gab”. There are other theories such as the legend of the King of Munster who saved a drowning woman and in return she offered him the gift of speech if he kissed the stone. Whatever the reason behind it, kissing the Blarney Stone has become something of a ritual and a must see attraction for its many visitors.
Performing the ritual of actually kissing the Blarney Stone was never an easy task but has been made a little easier in recent years. Previous to a metal parapet surrounding the stone, those hoping for a kiss had to be dangled by their ankles, leading to some serious injuries. Nowadays, whilst leaning backwards into the abyss and holding onto the railings it can be performed much easier with far less likelihood of injury.
For accommodation and the blarney dining experience there is The Muskerry Arms. A warm Irish welcome awaits you at this family run guesthouse and restaurant offering the best in fresh local food and a lively bar where you will find live entertainment most nights. For more information contact The Muskerry Arms.