Blarney Castle in Cork is most famous for its "Stone of Eloquence", known internationally as the Blarney Stone.
Situated just 8 km from Cork City, Blarney is one of Ireland’s oldest castles with the first structure dating back to the 11th century. It has been rebuilt several times with the third and present day Castle completed in 1446 by Cormac McCarthy, King of Munster. The castle is now a partial ruin, although some rooms can be accessed and are open to the public.
Good amateur video by William Brougham gives a great idea of what to expect when visiting Blarney Castle.
The Blarney Stone
The stone -- in fact, a large slab of rock -- is said to bestow the gift of the gab, meaning the gift of eloquent speech, on all those who kiss it.
Legend has it that the Cormac McCarthy, who had a fear of public speaking, was instructed to kiss the stone by the goddess Cliodhna, when he invoked her help with a legal case.
The goddess told him to kiss the first stone he saw on the morning of the case. McCarthy did so, spoke with great fluency, won the case, and put stone into the castles tower.
To date, the Blarney Stone has been kissed by millions of people, who travel from across the world to fulfil the fun ritual.
Be warned -- kissing the stone of eloquence is not a straightforward matter. The visitor must ascend to the top of the castle, lie on their back, dangle over the edge, then pass under the slab and press their lips upwards onto the slab! The help of an second person is usually advised.
History of Blarney Castle
A castle was first erected on this site in the 11th century. It is believed to have been a wooden structure, since no evidence remains of it today.
Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone castle, which in turn was destroyed.
It was rebuilt again soon after by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, meaning Cormac the Strong, fourth Lord of Muskerry, who died in 1495.
Cormaic Laidair was of the MacCarthy dynasty, who ruled over a large portion of county Cork. He was a respected as a patron of the church, the arts and learning. As well as rebuilding Blarney Castle, he also restored the nearby Abbey of Kilcrea.
In 1646, the castle suffered severe damage during the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland.
Image by Heather Elias
Side of Blarney Castle. Image by Amy Campbell