Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (2023)

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (1)

According to Irish legend, if you want the “gift of gab,” all you have to do is kiss the Blarney Stone, by leaning upside-down backwards over the highest parapet of a 15th century castle. (National Library of Ireland)

One of the most unique and fascinating words in the Irish language is “blarney.” It means eloquence with a dash of charm and wisdom or the gift of gab. John O’Conner Power explains it well “[Blarney] is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience.” This may seem like an innate trait or talent that we either have or we don’t, but for the Irish, there’s one way of getting it that has attracted millions of people over the centuries—and it involves exploring a centuries-old castle and finding a legendary stone.

(Video) Have you Always Wanted to Kiss the Blarney Stone? | The Planet D

THE BLARNEY STONE

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (2)

Kissing the Blarney Stone in 1897, before the protective barriers were installed. (National Library of Ireland / via Wikimedia Commons)

As the rumor goes, the Blarney Stone bestows the gift of gab on whoever kisses it. For all that it seems like the stuff of fairytales, the stone is comfortably lodged at Blarney Castle, a medieval fortress near Cork, Ireland, and it’s considered a world landmark that thousands of travelers have flocked to every year since the 1800s. The Discovery Channel even lists it as one of the things you should do before you die.

However, that doesn’t mean kissing it is an easy feat. You’d have to endure a steep climb that involves 127 steps from spiral staircases. Once you get there, a bit of flexibility is required. Visitors would lie on their back, hold on tight to an iron railing to avoid falling, and lean backwards a lot, all while handling the dizzying sight of the ground from 100 feet up. A practiced attendant will be there to guide you through the process. One century back, travelers weren’t as lucky. The old-fashioned way was to hold people’s ankles and then hang them upside-down so they could kiss the stone, but this practice came to an end when a traveler slipped free from his friend’s grasp and hurtled down to his death.

Adding to the mystique of the Blarney stone is its mysterious origins. There’s no clear historical record, but scientists can at least tell that it’s a limestone made of calcite. This kind of rock can only be found in the surrounding area, so the Blarney stone came from local Irish soil.

MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE BLARNEY STONE

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (3)

The Blarney Stone as seen from below, with protective metal barriers in pace to protect against falls. (Public Domain)

(Video) Kissing The Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle Ireland

Because people could only speculate about where the Blarney stone came from, numerous myths and legends have built up around it over the centuries, involving a variety of figures from Biblical prophets to goddesses and Queen Elizabeth I. The most consistent character is Cormac McCarthy, the King of Munster who did historically build Blarney Castle.

One popular story describes how Cormac McCarthy helped Scotland’s Robert the Bruce to defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014. He sent five thousand of his men, and Robert was so grateful that he gave a piece of the Stone of Scone to McCarthy in return. This stone was part of the seating place of the first King of Scots when he was crowned in 847. Unexpectedly, the stone would have magical powers that McCarthy would only discover later on.

Another version insists that McCarthy was led to it by a goddess. While McCarthy was still taking care of the castle’s construction, he became embroiled in a lawsuit, and he was worried about losing. To receive divine aid, he prayed fervently to the goddess Cliodhna, also called the Queen of the Banshees. She appeared in his dream, telling him to kiss the first stone he finds on his way to the court. Upon doing this, he became so eloquent that he won the case, and the stone was brought back and turned into a permanent fixture in the castle.

If we had to bet on accuracy, though, the account about Queen Elizabeth I and McCarthy wins out. Queen Elizabeth I wanted McCarthy to surrender the Blarney Castle over to her as a show of loyalty, so she ordered the Earl of Leicester to seize Blarney Castle from McCarthy. Since McCarthy didn’t want to give it up, he used his wit to keep the queen and Earl distracted, coming up with excuses and holding banquets that kept delaying the negotiations. It’s debatable whether McCarthy enlisted magic on his side or not, but in the end, the castle was never taken, and the whole affair got so absurd that it became a joke at court. “Blarney” officially made its entry into the Irish language after the Queen used the word “blarney” to describe the Earl’s pointless progress reports and McCarthy’s excuses.

Since Ireland has deep Catholic roots, many of the speculations about the Blarney stone connect it to Biblical events and saints.

One legend says that the Blarney Stone is actually Jacob’s pillow. This can be traced back to Genesis, where Jacob was running from his older twin brother Essau. He ended up at an unfamiliar city, and with nowhere to sleep for the night, he resorted to using a stone as a pillow. God appeared in his dream and blessed him. The next morning, he set up the stone as the start of a pillar and consecrated it to God. Later on, it was transported by the prophet Jeremiah to Ireland, where it became the “Lia Fail” or the Stone of Destiny. This was said to be placed on the inauguration mound on the Hill of Tara, serving as an oracle for the coronation of Irish kings. In the present, there’s an ancient stone that lies in that exact area, but some say that the Blarney Stone is the original Lia Fail.

Other Biblical stories claim that it was the stone that Moses struck to get water from when the Israelites were fleeing Egypt and had to look to God for sustenance. It could also have been the Stone of Ezel that David hid behind so Saul, his enemy, wouldn’t find him, later brought to Ireland through the Crusades.

(Video) Why Kissing The Blarney Stone Is One Of Ireland's Most Legendary Traditions

A more Irish-oriented tale points to St. Columba instead, a highly influential saint who propagated Christianity throughout the area that would become Scotland. The Blarney Stone could have been his deathbed pillow on the Island of Iona, where he put up a monastery. When he died, the stone was transferred to Mainland Scotland. As with the story of Jacob, it was made part of the throne for English royalty and turned into the Stone of Destiny.

Regardless of which is true, it’s a testament to how beloved the Blarney Stone is in Irish culture that so many different legends have been passed on about it from generation to generation. Even though we don’t add to these anymore in the 21st century, the magic of it lives on in the long lines of pilgrims waiting to kiss the stone.

BLARNEY CASTLE, HOME OF THE BLARNEY STONE

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (4)

Blarney Castle, County Cork, home of the famous Blarney Stone. (Chris Hill / Tourism Ireland.

The Blarney Stone is so famous that it’s often the main reason why tourists head to Blarney Castle, but they get a pleasant surprise when they notice the beauty of the castle itself and its grounds. Built in the 14th century and located near the River Martin, the Blarney Castle is the most visited castle in Ireland, with an estate spanning 1,500 acres.

Although most of the interiors are in ruins, tourists can still climb the walls and parapets, which have stayed sturdy throughout the years. Because much of the castle has been untouched by builders, a sense of mystery and timelessness remains. A “murder room” lies above the main entrance. Blood wasn’t spilled here—instead, the room has a square hole through which guards threw rocks and weapons that would hit unwitting intruders. Other amenities that were added for the convenience of visitors are court exhibition rooms and a café and souvenir shop.

If the castle is a mesmerizing relic of the past, the grounds have a similar ancient and idyllic feel, bringing to mind faeries and long-ago kingdoms. Visitors can walk through themed gardens and follow walking trails along the River Martin, which serenely reflects the view of the castle. Out of all the themed gardens, the Poison Garden is the most sought after. It contains poisonous plants gathered from all over the world such as wolfbane, nightshade, and even cannabis. On the other hand, go deep into the woods and you’ll encounter the Fern Garden, a tropical jungle lookalike. The estate is especially vivid and visually stunning in spring and autumn, when flowers and trees burst into color.

(Video) Ween - The Blarney Stone

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (5)

All in all, the landscape is extremely varied, with a cave dwelling, a serene lake, and many interesting rock formations. Ancient rocks and trees decorate the Rock Close, making it a comfortable sanctuary for worship. The Sisters is another site imbued with sacredness, featuring a prehistoric circle that has seven upright stones and two fallen ones. One explanation for this is about a king of Munster who had seven daughters and two sons. He went into battle with a clan chief, and although he came out as the victor, his two sons died. While he was grieving, he noticed the prehistoric circle and had two of the stones knocked down to pay tribute to his sons.

The Blarney Castle has a long history and is the third version to be built on the site. The first one was put up as a wooden structure in the 10th century. This was fortified with stone during 1210, only to be demolished and then rebuilt by Cormac McCarthy in 1446. The construction lasted for several years, resulting in a larger castle that housed the Blarney stone–the Blarney Castle that we know today.

Because the castle was an asset as a stronghold and enjoyed a good lookout position at the edge of a cliff, the McCarthy clan constantly fought with other clans who wanted the castle for themselves. Even Queen Elizabeth demanded that the McCarthy clan give it up, as mentioned in one Blarney stone’s origin story, but they refused. During the Confederate War of 1641-1652, the castle ended up in the possession of Oliver Cromwell, who aggressively attacked it with gunfire and raided it when everybody except for two servants had escaped. There were rumors about a treasure inside the castle, but it was never found and was reputed to have been snuck out by the McCarthy clan.

When Cromwell died, ending a severe period where most of the population was massacred, the McCarthy clan took the castle back in 1661. It was placed under different owners over the next two centuries. The Hollow Sword Blade Company of London bought it, after which it ended up with Sir Richard Payne, the Lord Chief of Justice, and then Sir James Jefferyes, governor of Cork City. Finally, Sir James’ descendants married into the Colhurst family, who still own the castle until today.

A IRELAND BUCKET LIST ESSENTIAL

Why Kiss the Blarney Stone? Everything You Want to Know About this Unique Irish Tradition - Info (6)

Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle is a heart-pounding tourist staple. (Tourism Ireland)

(Video) Kissing the Blarney Stone and the Legend Behind It!

The Blarney Stone is an amazing Irish artifact. Not only is it historically significant and located in a well-preserved 14th century castle, it also carries with it legends and stories told over many Irish generations, and it’s a tribute to “blarney,” a delightful word that reveals the good humor and gift for conversation that the Irish themselves are well-known for. Visiting it is quite a thrilling experience. In turn, the Blarney Castle and its grounds have much to offer, turning back time and soothing travelers with their quaint, idyllic charm. Upon kissing the Blarney Stone, it’s not too unexpected to get the gift of gab, where you won’t be able to stop talking about the beauty of the Blarney Castle and of Ireland as a whole.

Source by shamrockgift.com

FAQs

Why do the Irish kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

Kissing Ireland's Blarney Stone, a tradition that's been around for several centuries, is said to give a person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. The iconic stone is set in a wall of Blarney Castle, constructed in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, king of Munster, on the site of a demolished 13th century castle.

Where is the Blarney Stone and what is special about it? ›

The Blarney Stone is a piece of solid carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle in County Cork. Those of us lucky enough to kiss the stone are said to receive the gift of eloquence or, in more colloquial terms, “the gift of the gab”.

Why should you not kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

The legend spreads that whoever kisses the Blarney Stone will be endowed with the gift of great eloquence. Today, thousands make the pilgrimage to Blarney Castle to precariously lean backwards over a 3×5-foot gap atop the northern parapet — hundreds of feet above the ground — to kiss the Blarney Stone.

Can you still kiss the Blarney Stone 2022? ›

The stone is on the site of Blarney Castle near Cork. "We went to great lengths over the last number of months to put a series of health and safety measures in place," they said, adding that the stone can again "be kissed by any of our visitors if they choose to do so."

Is the Blarney Stone clean? ›

8 The Blarney Stone Is Always Clean

To ensure that the castle remained sanitary, different processes were put in place when it reopened last year. Staff on-site clean the stone with a cleanser approved by the World Health Organization, which kills 99.9% of germs and viruses and is entirely safe to use close to people.

Is the Blarney Stone worth it? ›

If you're only looking to see the stone and you're not interested in exploring the castle itself and admiring the grounds, don't bother. If you fancy exploring an Irish castle that boasts some of the most impressive grounds of the many castles in Ireland, Blarney is well worth a visit.

How much does it cost to kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

You can see the castle, tour the gardens, and kiss the Blarney Stone for about $15 USD. Be ready to wait in line, though—this is one of Ireland's most popular sites. To reach the stone, you climb a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the castle.

How old is the Blarney Stone? ›

How old is the Blarney Stone? The stone was added to the tower of the castle in 1446 to reinforce the castle in the form of a battlement. It is made of limestone and dates back some 330 million years according to geologists.

Does Blarney mean? ›

1 : skillful flattery : blandishment. 2 : nonsense, humbug.

Is kissing the Blarney Stone good luck? ›

Kissing the Blarney Stone is a tradition that's been around in Ireland for several centuries. It's really not about good luck. Kissing the old stone is believed to give a person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness.

How dirty is the Blarney Stone? ›

Tripadvisor.com bestowed this dubious honor on one of Ireland's top attractions by polling 4,600 travelers, 34 percent of whom are more germ conscious since the swine flu outbreak.

What is Ireland's nickname? ›

The Emerald Isle

Whatever the exact origins of The Emerald Isle as a poetic name for Ireland it soon gained huge circulation in both Irish and English literature and poetry — and even in opera.

How many steps does it take to kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

Kissing the stone isn't as easy as it sounds

Rather inconveniently, the Blarney Stone was built into the east wall of the battlement 85 feet off the ground — to reach it, you'll have to climb 128 narrow stone steps.

How big is the Blarney Stone? ›

You can't see me! The blarney stone is situated 85 feet up, on the east wall of the battlement. From the top of the Blarney castle wall, you have to bend backwards while holding a railing.

Is the Blarney Stone a tourist trap? ›

An absolute tourist trap and waste of money and time. I went to the Blarney stone not because I was looking forward to kissing a stone but because the reviews said there is at least some nice view and gardens to see. However, the view and gardens are nothing special and not worth the 12 euro entry.

Can you see Blarney Castle without paying? ›

It is €13 for an adult, €11 for a senior/student, €5 for a child(8-16) and €32 for a family. any children under 8 are free.

How much does Blarney Castle cost? ›

Book your Tickets!
Adult Admission€18
Student/Seniors (60 years and over)€14
Children (8-16 years / under 8 free)€8
Family (2 adults + 2 children)€45
Souvenir Audio Guide€6

Do you need a ticket to kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

You don't have to kiss the Blarney Stone but need a ticket to get into the gardens and castle. There are shops outside but the main attraction is the castle and gardens. Our tour paid for the tickets but probably not an expensive one anyway. over a year ago.

What is the Blarney Stone also known as? ›

It is said that the Blarney stone was originally the stone of Jacob from the Book of Genesis and was brought to Ireland by the Prophet Jeremiah. The stone was first used in Ireland as an oracular throne and would become known as the Lia Fail or 'fatal stone.

What are some common Irish sayings? ›

Here are 15 Irish expressions to break out on St. Paddy's Day:
  • May the road rise up to meet you. ...
  • Sláinte! ...
  • What's the craic? ...
  • May the cat eat you, and may the devil eat the cat. ...
  • Two people shorten the road. ...
  • Story horse? ...
  • On me tod. ...
  • Acting the maggot.
Mar 14, 2015

How are you in Irish slang? ›

Grand (an iconic bit of Irish slang) Grand means OK. You'll hear it most commonly used as a response to, 'How's it going'/'How are you feeling? '/'How are you today?

What are Irish words? ›

Useful Words & Phrases in Irish Gaelic
  • Dia duit. Meaning: “Hello” (literal translation of “god be with you”) ...
  • Slán. Meaning: “Goodbye” with (literal translation of “safe”) ...
  • Craic agus Ceol. Meaning: Fun and music. ...
  • Go raibh maith agat. Meaning: “Thank you” with a literal translation of “may you have goodness” ...
  • Sláinte. ...
Jan 2, 2020

How do you kiss Blarney Stone? ›

To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence. Some say it was Jacob's Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.

Do Irish have middle names? ›

Middle names are optional and are rarely used in daily life. The use of middle names was not traditional practice in Ireland, having been introduced by the English. However, today it is most common for people to have one or multiple.

What is the oldest name for Ireland? ›

Hibernia, in ancient geography, one of the names by which Ireland was known to Greek and Roman writers. Other names were Ierne, Iouernia and (H)iberio.

What is the Irish national flower? ›

The History of the Shamrock

Although arguably not exactly a flower, the shamrock is a small clover which is now the national flower of Ireland. It came to be so as it was once an important symbol to the ancient Irish Druids, as a plant naturally displaying the triad with its three heart-shaped leaves.

Is Blarney Stone kid friendly? ›

NO kids allowed - Food okay - Blarney Stone Pub.

What rock is the Blarney Stone made of? ›

Analysis indicates the Blarney Stone is a limestone, made of the mineral calcite, and containing recrystallized and slightly deformed fragments of fossil brachiopod shells and bryozoans.

When did kissing the Blarney Stone start? ›

When did the kissing start? The origin of the famous stone dates back to the castle's creation in its current form in 1446. The builder, Cormac McCarthy, had legal trouble and sought the advice of Clíodhna, the legendary Queen of the Banshees.

How much does it cost to kiss the Blarney Stone? ›

You can see the castle, tour the gardens, and kiss the Blarney Stone for about $15 USD. Be ready to wait in line, though—this is one of Ireland's most popular sites. To reach the stone, you climb a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the castle.

Why is Blarney Castle famous? ›

Blarney Castle is a Medieval castle and stronghold in County Cork, Ireland. It is most famous for being the home of the Blarney Stone, which according to folklore, bestows the gift of the flattery and eloquence on those who kiss the stone.

What is Ireland's nickname? ›

The Emerald Isle

Whatever the exact origins of The Emerald Isle as a poetic name for Ireland it soon gained huge circulation in both Irish and English literature and poetry — and even in opera.

What are some common Irish sayings? ›

Here are 15 Irish expressions to break out on St. Paddy's Day:
  • May the road rise up to meet you. ...
  • Sláinte! ...
  • What's the craic? ...
  • May the cat eat you, and may the devil eat the cat. ...
  • Two people shorten the road. ...
  • Story horse? ...
  • On me tod. ...
  • Acting the maggot.
Mar 14, 2015

Does Blarney mean? ›

1 : skillful flattery : blandishment. 2 : nonsense, humbug.

What is the Blarney Stone also known as? ›

It is said that the Blarney stone was originally the stone of Jacob from the Book of Genesis and was brought to Ireland by the Prophet Jeremiah. The stone was first used in Ireland as an oracular throne and would become known as the Lia Fail or 'fatal stone.

How dirty is the Blarney Stone? ›

Tripadvisor.com bestowed this dubious honor on one of Ireland's top attractions by polling 4,600 travelers, 34 percent of whom are more germ conscious since the swine flu outbreak.

Who destroyed Blarney? ›

Blarney Castle and the Blarney stone. There was a castle on the site dating back to 1200 but this was destroyed in 1446, Blarney castle as we know it was built in the mid 1400′s by Cormac Laidair MacCarthy lord of Muskaree. The castle fell under siege in the Irish confederate war.

How much does Blarney Castle cost? ›

Book your Tickets!
Adult Admission€18
Student/Seniors (60 years and over)€14
Children (8-16 years / under 8 free)€8
Family (2 adults + 2 children)€45
Souvenir Audio Guide€6

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