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Blarney’s Got a Few Good Stories to Tell

August 24, 2009

Blarney and Cork, originally uploaded by Mark Riley.

Phil says… Millions of visitors to Ireland from all over the world go to see the Blarney Stone and take part in the famous ritual of kissing it. Legend has it that whoever kisses the stone, which was built into the battlements of the castle in 1446, shall be rewarded with the everlasting skill of being able to flatter people, or as the Irish say, inherit ‘the gift of the gab’.

The stone is located at Blarney Castle, around 5 miles from Cork, with world statesman and film stars known to having also performed the custom.

The kiss itself is not easily achieved however, with people having to climb to the top of the castle and lean backwards over the walls edge to press their lips against the stone. This practice is supervised of course, with the help of an assistant and safety gear and there have also been iron guide rails and protective crossbars fitted.

This was not always the case though, as before these safety measures were introduced, people would risk their lives trying to kiss the stone, dangling from the castle walls as others desperately clung to their ankles!

Blarney Castle Grounds
Originally uploaded by spinfly

The origins and traditions surrounding the stone take on a number of guises and it is up to those who visit the castle to decide which folklore they wish to accept.

It is thought that the word Blarney derives from a meeting between Queen Elizabeth I and the Lord of Blarney, Cormac Teige McCarthy. Whilst requesting an oath of loyalty to retain occupancy of land, Queen Elizabeth I received responses from the Lord of Blarney which amounted to subtle diplomacy, promising the Queen loyalty without surrendering land. Queen Elizabeth I declared that McCarthy was giving her ‘a lot of Blarney’ which gave rise to the legend and Blarney was thought of as being able to offer ‘empty flattery’.

If you are visiting Ireland and want to take part in this famous ritual, venture out of Dublin using one of the excellent car hire services and head for Cork and on to Blarney Castle. You too could go home having gained ‘the gift of the gab!’

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 4, 2009 2:27 PM

    I’ve been told I don’t need any help with the gift of gab, but I kissed the Blarney Stone anyway. For some reason, I was expecting to lean back and be facing the stone above me. That would have been easier. Instead it is directly behind you vertically so you have to bend your head way back to get the angle.

    It’s not difficult, but it does happen fast. Be prepared to slide back farther than you think and lean back more than you expect as well. I’ll be posting my picture kissing the Blarney Stone when I write something about the trip on my blog.

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