Blarney Castle, Cork
Blarney Castle - yes I know I have photos of it in my travelogue but really unless you get excited at the thought of hanging upside down 300 feet up just to kiss a big stone then give it a miss!!
This is especially true in Summer when you will probably have to queue for a while before your turn comes - just think of all those people slobbering all over the stone before you ..... Yuk!
Also, if you have small children keep a close eye on them as it's a long drop from the top!
Unique Suggestions: If you really feel the need to check it out make sure you go out of season, early in the morning, later in the evening or on a week day to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Fun Alternatives: The castle itself is dark & empty with no roof - to see a restored castle try Barryscourt Castle in Carrigtwhohill (about 10 miles from Cork City) instead - please see my tip on Barryscourt for more details.
Blarney Castle is 8km from Cork and a popular tourist attraction as according to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the Stone and tour the castle and its gardens.
Unique Suggestions: Think about your basic instinct before to do this unbearable experience...
Fun Alternatives: Kiss the real Stone for a warmer experience!!!
If you love leprechauns and want ot buy tacky souvenirs, there's no place better than Blarney! You'll meet coach-loads of American and French tourists grabbing tax-free "bargains". Don't go near it from end of November to Christmas if you want to avoid crowds of kids queuing for Santa.
Unique Suggestions: In October and at Easter, you will find knitwear at knock-down prices in the sales, at Blarney Woollen Mills. The designer stuff is well reduced too. And, well, if you have to go, you might as well kiss the stone, or at least climb to the top for the view.
Fun Alternatives: You'd be much better off in Gougane Barra.
Kissing the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle (see photo) which is located about 6 miles northwest of Cork is a tourist trap.
The legend says that all who kiss the stone catch the gift of gab. It is so nasty to see all the tourists queueing up just to kiss the stone at the top of the castle. I haven't done it ...
You gotta hand it to the Irish. No-one else would get away with this nonsense of identifying a stone in a castle that looks just slightly different to the rest of the ruin’s walls and declare it to have magical qualities of making you eloquent provided you kiss it…. while hanging upside down from a wall.
If it was just a small spleen, I’d be delighted to recommend it, but this has spawned a ridiculously large tourist trade. Walk up to it in the winter when there’s no-one else around and you’ll notice that the pleasure of climbing up the stairs, kissing the darn stone and walking back down again will take you just about 10 minutes. The Euro 7,00 you paid per person will then start hitting you as outrageously bad value for money, especially when you arrive with a larger group or family.
Step outside the Castle grounds and you’ll probably head into Blarney Woollen Mills to spend yet some more serious money on goods you don’t really want and that – given half a chance - you may find cheaper elsewhere.
There really is nothing in the village that really warrants a visit. It’s a complete rip off. Stay clear. It’s not called “Blarney” for nothing. (And no wonder “Blarney Castle” is the only pre-assigned Tourist Trap category on VT for Cork.)
And, no, the Irish do *not* pee against the stone. That is a very popular Urban Legend.
Unique Suggestions: Admittedly the gardens around the Castle are slightly more interesting, but still don’t warrant the entrance fee or a trip to Blarney Village.
Fun Alternatives: Have a pint or three!
If you don't get to Blarney very early, you will spend a lot of time standing in line to kiss the blarney stone. Bare in mind that to truly kiss the real stone, you must lower yourself, hanging backwards, about 3 feet into the hole. Without upper body strength (when was the last time you did a round of chin-ups at the gym?), and without a lot of faith in the attendant (he did not impress me with his ability to catch me!) most folks just make do with kissing the nearest stone (which is not disinfected between kisses!)---so just pretend, like I did!
You know, from what I've heard from locals in Ireland, it's not too wise to kiss the Blarney Stone as the area locals at times pee on it. I don't know if that's true, but I heard that in Ireland from people that live there, so, I'm guessing it is.
If you go to Blarney (to kiss the stone), then you're bound to run into Blarney Woollen Mills. It's a giant shop that sells every conceivable kind of tourist tat ranging from plastic/fabric/pottery leprechauns, T-shirts that say 'the luck of the Irish', foodstuffs containing whiskey or Guinness, Guinness branded clothing and merchandise, Waterford Crystal and fiddle-dee-dee authentic Irish music cassettes.
It's kind of interesting but you'll probably find much of the same stuff in Cork City for less. There is cafeteria/restaurant attached to the Woolen Mills which is expensive and best avoided. Try one of the local pubs for a cheaper lunch and wash it down with a pint!