Blarney Castle, Ireland
Absolutely worth a short trip by Bus Eareann.
When you walk around in the castle you have the feeling you can here the voices of people sreaming about another pig that is cooked...:-)
The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a druidic circle and the wishing steps inside them.
The gardens around the Castle were truly beautiful. Lots of soft green grass, colourful trees and a small stream. The walk to the Castle from the gates was a pleasure in itself. Even if you don't fancy kissing the stone the Castle and gardens are worth the entry fee which I think is 7.50 euros.
On tours, you are given time at an area to do what you chose to do. At Blarney Castle we had several hours to explore the castle and to shop at the Blarney Woolen Mills which is considered a great place to shop. I am not into shopping so I spent my time birding the grounds of Blarney Castle. It has trails and the River Martin running through the grounds so was a very intresting place to look for birds. There were beautiful Horse Chestnut Trees here. I saw 14 species of birds on the grounds including: Song Thrushes, Mistle Thrushes, Wood Pigeons, Rooks, Turtle Doves, European Robins, Jackdaws, Eurasian Siskins, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Winter Wrens, and a Eurasian Dipper on a rock in the small river. Since I was in Ireland, I spent some time looking through the shamrocks that covered the ground in places looking for a 4 leaved clover but only saw ones with 3 leaves.
This is probably one of the most famous castles in Ireland because the "blarney stone" is here. Actually there isn't much of the castle left, just the keep built in 1446 which is designed like the typical tower house. We went up the narrow stairs to the top where you can "try" to kiss the blarney stone. After watching several people try and fail, we decided we weren't even going to try. You have to be very agile to do it. You lay down on your back, then hold the metal bars and lean all the way back and drop down so your mouth can kiss the wall behind your head. I'm too old for that! In the castle we saw the ruins of the kitchen, the chapel, banquet hall and family rooms in 3 layers connected by curving stairways.
What's a visit to Cork without making a trip to Blarney castle to kiss the famous Blarney stone. According to the tale if you kiss the stone you will receive the irish gift of gab and I think this is true because before I'm not very talkative and look what happen to me now. Be careful in the stairs its very narrow and winding. After doing the deed I recommend checking the view of the village from the tower it's very picturesque.
The castle has been transformed into a line to see and kiss the famous Blarney Stone. It's sad, because it is a tourist trap and they do not tell you much about the family that lived in the castle or the history of the castle, just the possible histories of the Blarney stone. It is difficult to get to the stone. You must climb tiny steps holding on to a moving rope to get to the top, if you do not like high or cramped places, skip Blarney.
Kissing this stone, situated right at the very top of the tower at Blarney Castle, is supposed to give you the "gift of the gab" or eloquent speech. It was Queen Elizabeth I who coined the term when she was frustrated with Lord Blarneys ability to talk endlessly without ever agreeing with her demands. I was quite nervous - being I suffer from vertigo - but there is a grill to stop you falling down and when you are actually doing it it really isn't so bad. The worst bit was the head rush coming back upwards again!! Try it!! there will be no shutting you up afterwards!!
Just a word about photos, there is an official photographer there but don't let that stop you getting a friend to take a photo of you kissing the stone, you aren't obliged to buy the photos
This castle dates from 1446 and the tower house is built on solid limestone. Obviously the most famous thing here is the Blarney Stone which is right at the top of the tower, which requires climbing up some pretty narrow spiral staircases. There isn't much to the rest of the castle as the rooms are nothing more than shells now and only have a sign saying what the room was used as.
Blarney Castle is one of the most famous castles in Ireland, largely due to the presence of the Blarney Stone. The stone is rumoured to be one half of the rock upon which the kings of Scotland were crowned. For some inexpicable reason kissing the stone is meant to give you the gift of gab, and I shudder to think how much more talkative my family would be if they got anywhere near it.
The castle is a nice place - and a good example if you aren't familiar with this type of historic building, and the grounds it is set in are simply enchanting - like something out of a fairy tale. The Blarney Stone itself is okay, and worth the kiss just to encounter the grumpy old man who helps you lean backwards over the battlements to plant a pucker on it.
If you are an inveterate gabber, you must go and kiss the Blarney Stone, thereby absolving you of all blame-it's the stones fault! I didn't realize that you have to lie down, and bend over backwards to kiss the castle wall. Even though the wall is sprayed with disinfectant between kissers, my friend wouldn't do it! But she did save me the money of buying the souvenir photo by taking one with my own camera. And the Blarney Castle is nice to see. There's a beautiful countryside view from the top. Best soup I had on the trip came from the cafeteria on the grounds...
For pure tourist allure few attractions outweigh the Blarney Stone! To me the best thing about Blarney castle is the grounds - usually overlooked but well worth exploring!! If you must kiss the stone, go early before the lines get too long! Remember, the stone is actually a couple feet down and you must lower yourself. Personally I had doubts the gentleman assistant would be able to catch me if I should slip!
My mom and I took a large, guided tour so we got to see a lot of different tourist sites around Ireland. I recommend trying to go on a tour b/c they tell you a lot of interesting facts about where you are.
I would suggest seeing Blarney Castle, even if you don't climb to the top to kiss the stone. It's a confined, narrow climb up a winding staircase made of rock, so not for those who don't like to climb or get closterphobic. They have a nice shop there too where we bought a lot of souvenirs. Also, if you get a chance go and see some of the Irish dancing, it's really neat.
Visit the castles. They are all over the place. There are famous ones like the Blarney Castle with the Blarney Stone, but there are other lesser known castles everywhere you look.
Just seems odd that as you are driving along the road, thousand year old castles are just sitting there like you would come across a McDonald's in North America.
This is pretty much tourist 101 stuff - being hung out over a large drop (50 feet or so) to kiss a stone. Compulsory stuff for the camera.
The best part of Blarney Castle is the creepy dungeon! The problem is there is no lightening, so you need a flashlight to explore.