by Ethel Matshiva
Ireland’s Treasured Castle
Blarney castle, located in southwest Ireland five miles from Cork City, was originally built out of wood and replaced by a stone structure in 1210 A.D. The present structure was built over half a century ago by Munster King Cormac McCarthy.
The Blarney Castle interior is characterized by thick stone walls and plenty of corridors and doorways and a dungeon. The dungeon lies beneath the tower with stairs that connect it to a small cave believed to have been used by King McCarthy for safety during Oliver Cromwell’s 1649 attack of Ireland. Cromwell’s army fired at the tower breaking its walls.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Blarney means ‘the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without giving offense’.
Kissing the Blarney Stone is believed to “give the kisser the power of eloquence or the gift of gab.” Visitors must be prepared to climb a narrow, steep flight of stairs to reach the top of the castle in order to kiss the Blarney Stone. However, it is important that the stone is kissed in the right way for it to be effective.
To kiss the stone, the person is “laid back toward the stone and leans far back downward into the abyss while holding the iron rails and then asked to lower his or her head until it is even with the stone.” Then they kiss the blarney stone.
Attractions Near Blarney Castle
- The Druids Rock Close has as a cave, wishing steps and a sacrificial alter believed to be remains from Druidic settlement. Weeping willows and bamboo trees surround the Rock Close which sits with huge stone monuments on the pre-historic site.
- The Arboretum: Visitors can take walks into the castle’s woodland which winds along River Martin. There’s an arboretum on the grounds showcasing evergreen oaks, copper beach and an ornamental pear just to name a few.
- Blarney House and Gardens: Sits south of the Blarney Castle and is open to the public during the summer months. The original house was built in 1874 and displays family portraits, art and antique furniture. Most tourists enjoy the castle’s grounds by choosing to either hike around the lake or picnic on the grounds while watching the swans and cattle grazing.
- The Blarney Woolen Mills flagship store, situated near the castle and six miles outside Cork City, retails authentic Irish wool and other Irish gifts including jewelry, crystal and linen.