This is the start of a quote from Queen Elizabeth I venting her frustration in dealing with Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster. The Queen decreed that properties should be occupied under title to her. Cormac MacCarthy responded to each of her letters promising his loyalty to her, but not his land. She finally lost her composure saying “This is all Blarney, he never means what he says, he never does what he promises”*.
The castle you can visit today was built in 1446 by Dermot MacCarthy, after the original structure built in 1210 by Cormac MacCarthy was destroyed. The castle is located about 5 miles northwest of Cork. Most visitors come to kiss the Blarney Stone, giving them the gift of eloquence, which is at the top of the castle and you have to lay down and bend backwards in order to kiss it. This used to be dangerous before the iron rails were installed since there is a huge opening to the land below. There is also someone there to hold onto you, and they take a picture of you which can be purchased. It is quite a stretch backwards, but the iron rails make it easy. The stone’s origin is not known and there are many different theories, but half of the stone was a gift from Robert the Bruce in 1314 for Cormac MacCarthy’s support in the Battle of Bannockburn.
The castle grounds are beautiful with two rivers running through the property, Blarney River and River Martin. My main reason for visiting was to see the castle and kiss the stone, but I should’ve spent a little more time to check out the gardens, rock close and Blarney House. Another reason to plan my return trip! Some famous kissers of the stone include Sir Winston Churchill, Mick Jagger, Milton Hershey, and Laurel and Hardy. If you want to explore the castle and go up to kiss the Blarney Stone, wear good shoes. The floors and stairs of the castle are not flat, as you can see from the photos. there are handrails and ropes on the stairs, so hold on and enjoy the view at the top!
*Blarney Castle the Story of a Legend by Dr. Sean Pettit