Pucker Up: The Legend of Blarney Castle

On November 6, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

Did you ever wish that words came easily for you? Glossophobia, better known as the fear of public speaking, is the number one fear in America, ranking ahead of death and spiders. Knowing what to say at the correct time is a true gift…or is it? Maybe those people have simply kissed the Blarney Stone. The story goes that if you pucker up to that legendary stone, you receive the gift of gab. Does it work? Who knows for sure. But, Blarney Castle is on the must-do list for anyone visiting Ireland.

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Blarney Castle

BLARNEY CASTLE AND GARDENS

Blarney Castle and Gardens is located in County Cork. Believe me, there is much more there than simply a slobbery chunk of bluestone to kiss. The area you pay €10 to enter includes more than 60 acres of gardens, trees and waterways. It’s best to set aside at least a full afternoon (if not more) to explore this place. As we learned quickly, it rains a lot in Ireland. So, try and save this visit for a fair weather day. Otherwise, you may get a bit soggy.

We decided to start our tour by visiting the castle. There are 100 steps (no sweat!) up to the top. But, you are able to make your way from room to room in the castle at your own pace, reading information about what each room was used for when the castle was inhabited. The castle we walked through is actually the THIRD edition on this site. The first castle was originally built in the 10th century and was made out of wood. In 1220 AD, a stone structure replaced the former one. But that was then demolished and rebuilt in 1446.

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We knew this was coming eventually.

THE MEN ARE IN THE DOGHOUSE

Before you even enter Blarney Castle, don’t miss the dungeon and the dog house. I don’t know which one the gentlemen in our group preferred. Still, I can say that all of them fit snuggly into the doghouse.

PUCKER UP FOR THE BLARNEY STONE

Once you’ve reached the top, you realize that it’s time to get the disinfectant ready. Hopefully, there’s a bit of a line. So while you’re waiting and practicing your kissy faces, you get to soak in a beautiful view.

I really wasn’t ready for the process of kissing the stone. It requires a full committment. First, you lay down on your back with your head and shoulders hanging in mid-air off part of the castle wall. Then, you lean farther upside down so that your face and lips meet the Blarney stone. There are two metal bars, which you can grab onto to help stabilize yourself (or to help stop you from plunging to your death.) From the present viewpoint, the fall would resemble an olympic back dive in the straight position. This is the only time I wouldn’t want a perfect 10. I wouldn’t want a score at all.

Oh, and there are also two men there to help you. One to hold your legs and another to take a photo – just to prove that you’ve kissed the stone. All six of us took our turns. No one passed up the opportunity.

BLARNEY VS. BALONEY

It’s no coincidence that the word “Blarney” is similar to the word “baloney.” They are very different versions of the same concept. According to a sign at Blarney Castle,

“The difference between ‘blarney’ and ‘baloney’ is this: Baloney is when you tell a 50-year old woman that she looks 18. Blarney is when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful.”

THE POISON GARDEN

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Absinthe anyone?

After our descent, we really enjoyed walking around the gardens. Our favorite was the Poison Garden. While a sign posted next to it says that the garden in medieval times most likely grew medicinal herbs and plants, the garden today helps educate the public about common poisonous plants. Signs next to each plant include information about their effects, as well as their purpose in the past and present day.

There’s plenty to do and see at Blarney Castle and Gardens. And truth be told, we probably didn’t need to kiss the stone. Now, we just won’t be able to shut up.

Check out our Blarney Castle gallery.

-C.K.

 

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