Kisses sweeter than stone at Blarney Castle

Having the gift of the blarney is Irish-speak for being a good talker, and the origins of this saying lead back to Blarney Castle, which is in Blarney Village, just 8 kilometres northwest of Cork, Ireland.

Tradition has it that anyone can get the gift of the blarney; the only qualification to attain this magnificent gift is to be able to kiss the Blarney Stone, or the Stone of Eloquence, as it is also known.

It sounds like an easy task to kiss the Blarney Stone; just rock up to the castle, find the stone and plant one on it.  This being Ireland, things just aren’t so simple.   You see, the stone is near the top of one of the castle parapets.  Okay, most people can climb a parapet with little problem, but the stone is actually set in the wall under the battlements, so in order to be able to kiss it, you need to lie down on your back, ease your head and shoulders over the yawning gap, push yourself down a bit so that you are hanging upside down looking at the rather large drop to the ground well below, and then pop you head under the battlement so that you can kiss the bottom of the stone.

Not unsurprisingly, many of the people who climb to the top of the castle with the intention of kissing the stone opt not to do so when they see what is involved.

It is at this point that I can confess that I did actually kiss the Blarney Stone, ye old Stone of Eloquence, but I have been told that I am certifiably mad.  If so, then I am in good company as Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy, Billy Connolly and Mick Jagger have all joined me at kissing the stone, and all are known for their excellent use of language in both politics and entertainment.

Even if you don’t kiss the Blarney Stone, it is worthwhile visiting and investigating the castle as it is a lovely building, which is surrounded by quite beautiful gardens.    

The current castle was built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy who was the King of Munster at the time.  The history of the Blarney Stone does pre-date the present building.  Although there are several theories regarding the origin of the stone, one of the most likely is that it was presented to an occupant of the previous castle, Cormac McCarthy who, whilst King of Munster, supplied four thousand men from Munster to supplement the forces of Robert the Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Legend has it that the latter king gave half of the Stone of Scone to McCarthy in gratitude. This, now known as the Blarney Stone, was incorporated in the battlements where it can now be kissed.

Whatever the legend, kissing the Blarney Stone is an adventure that should be completed.  I don’t know if kissing the stone has increased my vocal virtuosity, but there are some who say that it must have, as now I never shut up.

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