Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most photographed and visited castles. It’s the only place in Ireland where nearly 400,000 visitors per year from all over the world willingly pay an entrance fee so they can queue up in line and kiss a stone. But there is so much more to Blarney Castle than getting to first base with a castle wall.
Blarney Castle sits on a thousand acres of woodland, making it feel less crowded than when in the visitor parking lot.
Blarney Castle was built in 1446 and is the 3rd fortification to stand on this site.
According to legend, there are several secret passageways that lead out of Blarney Castle. This is one of them: Badgers Cave.
During the Irish Confederate Wars, Blarney Castle was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces under Lord Broghill. Lord Broghill broke the tower walls but when his men entered the castle, he only found two aged retainers. The main garrison had fled through Badgers Cave and had taken with them all of the gold in the castle.
We headed inside the main fortfication to explore the different levels.
The Earl’s bedchamber.
Once we started going up the stairs, we had no choice but to continue up… it turned out to be the queue for the Blarney Stone, which I had insisted I wasn’t going to kiss!
Before I knew it, the docent was beckoning us to step forward and take our turn! I spent time waiting so… might as well! 😛 When in Cork, Ireland…
I’m not sure why husband was excited to kiss the Blarney Stone –he is an awesome public speaker without it!
Kissing the stone is supposed to endow the kisser with the gift of gab/eloquence/skill at flattery. Visitors from all over having been kissing this stone for over 200 years! Oh the germs! I admit, it was kind of a relief to see a bottle of cleaning spray right next to the stone.
There are quite a few legends surrounding the stone:
- The stone is the “Lia Fáil”, the divine stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.
- Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, appealed to the goddess Clíodhna for help with legal issues. She told him to kiss the first stone he found on his way to court. The result was that he pleaded so eloquently that he won his case.
- It’s the pillow used by Saint Columba on his deathbed (which doesn’t seem very comfortable but I guess when you’re dying, it doesn’t matter….)
- It’s the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites (see Exodus 17:6 & Numbers 20:11).
- It’s the stone that Jacob used as a pillow, and was brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.
It’s probably all blarney but we actually had fun with it. 😉
The middle opening of the top of the tower is where the Blarney Stone is kissed.
The beautiful poison garden contained wolfsbane, mandrake, ricin and opium, as well as cannabis.
The grounds of Blarney Castle are extensive and would require more than 2 hours to explore, time that we didn’t have as we needed to make our way to the Rock of Cashel. Overall, Blarney Castle was a fun attraction!
Blarney Castle Overview
- Coordinates: 51.9290922,-8.5708847
- Fees: Adult €13; Student/Seniors €11; Children (8-16) €5; Family (2 adults + 2 children) €32
- Usage: Moderate
- Time length: Minimum 2.5 hours