Blarney Castle, Blarney
Even if you have decided not to kiss the Blarney stone, try to make it up the spiralling stone stairs to the top and the Battlements for the view.
Once at the top, your only allowed to walk one-way, this prevents congestion. We walked all the way around. From the railings I could look down into the centre of Blarney Castle and from the stone battlements, I had wonderful views over the countryside, of the gardens and estate of Blarney Castle and the small village of Blarney.
Well worth the climb.
Not much to see anymore, but "the Court" is a part of Blarney Castle history. Located against the east wall of the Castle are the ruins of a late 18th century Gothic mansion, known as 'the Court', built in 1739 by the Jeffereys.
The Jefferies didn't like living in the Castle, in fact they thought it to be very uncomfortable, so to solve the situation they had a grand three storeys high gothic styled country mansion built in the late 18th century. Sadly it was destroyed by fire in 1820 , rumoured to stop the son from inheriting it.
Although there isn't much to see, do have a look at the Dungeon as there is an Information board with details, hopefully you may be able to imagine what times were like in here.
The Dungeon is located beneath Blarney Castle. Tunnelled out is a labyrinth of underground passages and chambers, dating from different periods in the Castle history, most of these are inaccessible now. Where I went is believed to be chambers of the Castle prison, not a place where I would like to be imprisoned. Dark, probably damp and I imagine very cold with enormously thick walls, I wondered how many died here
If you climb the left-hand of the parallel staircases, you will find the chamber that some say housed the Castle well, A 16 metres long inaccessible tunnel connects this chamber to a small cave in the rock, built like this to hopefully stop access by an invading army. Water as always. is vital for survival.
Blarney's huge rectangular great tower is one of the very biggest in Ireland.
In the early 15th century, a small 6-metre high four storied turret stood here. This original turret, not then machicolated, remained here for 40 years until it was decided to be re-constructed by castle owner, Cormac MacCarthaigh. It was he who had the huge rectangular great tower, 18.3 x 11.9 metres built five stories high, incorporating the small square turret at its north-west comer, making the whole an L-plan tower.
The new walls were 3.6 metres (12 ft) or so thick at the lower levels, we saw this when inside the Castle. Another point of interest is the walls slope in the further you get to the top, inside we didn't notice this, best to look at from the exterior. The second floor of the rectangle is vaulted.
The newer tower is a massive machicolated parapet going all the way around the on top of the fifth storey, projecting outwards over the top of the walling by a distance of more than 0.6 metres and is carried all round on a row of pyramidal corbels over 1.8 metres long. On the top of the parapet are stepped battlements.
In the 18th century the then owner added a Gothic-style extension at the south end this is just ruins now.
Pop you head into the ground level openings before walking the interior of the Castle.
The North Wall is different as the Castle on this side is seen sitting atop an 8 metre cliff of rock, which formed the quarry for building the castle.
Look carefully as from here you can see the Castle was built in two stages. A seam gives this away, the right-hand part is a tall thin tower. The casemented oriel window projects out from the Earl's Bedchamber which we walked through inside the Castle, this is different to the everyday Irish castle.
Look closely again and be thankful your weren't standing here in medieval times, as projecting from the Castle walls are three large square holes, the outlets for the garderobes, (toilets). Evidently when they positioned these in the Castle they noted which direction the wind blew, so as the wind blew away the smell from the Castle, perhaps towards the town of Blarney or hopefully into the open paddocks.
Originally, these walls would have been whitewashed.
Really, it is up to you what you decide to do first.
Our decision was made through the lack of people here, thank goodness we decided to explore the Castle first, as once we were inside we realized we wouldn't want to be in here with a crowd of people.
As Blarney Castle is in ruins, don't expect to much in the interior. All the rooms are empty so your looking at bare walls, the only thing there was an information board with details what thatroom was used for. We read these and found them interesting, then moved on, climbing steep and narrow steps using a thick rope as a handrail. There is only room for one person and your all going in the same direction, it's only if somebody is slow or taking a breather that you will be held up.
Make sure you look out the windows as you go as there are fabulous views. Eventually we reached the top where the Blarney Stone is located.
I imagine nearly everybody would want to come and see Blarney Castle, I know we did so we made sure it was on our driving route around Ireland. As we all know, it's most famous for its stone, which legend tells has the power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it.
Queen Elizabeth I is who we thank for the word "blarney," best described as ‘pleasant talk, intended to deceive without offending’.
I must warn you there is a lot more than just the Castle to see. The Castle takes a while as the steps are narrow and steep, no fast going here, and we looked around at every level. Then there are the Castle grounds which include the Rock Close, the lake, old trees, ancient stones, garden beds, wishing steps, witch's kitchen, Druid's cave and much more to see. There is acres of parkland filled with rare and unusual trees and plants, where you can stroll around if you wish.
The Castle isn't suitable for anybody with walking and breathing difficulties.
We arrived by car, but there are many companies that bring tours here.
We decided to come early morning not long after the gates had opened, this turned out to be a very good decision as very few people were here as the Tour Buses hadn't arrived yet. We bought our ticket then took the longish walk to the Castle getting some wonderful views along the way. The weather was good near the end of May.
It would probably be as good if you came later in the afternoon as most of the tour buses would have left by then. We enjoyed Blarney Castle, but it would have been an entirely different experience if crowds were here, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much.
THE OPENING TIMES do vary with the months, so check the website for correct hours.
Times subject to change due to bad weather/poor light.
The Castle, Rock Close Gardens and Lakeland Walk are open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Open Year Round
April, May & September Monday - Saturday 09:00 - 18:30
June - August Monday - Saturday 09:00 - 19:00
October - April Monday - Saturday 09:00 - 18:00 (or sundown)
Sundays Summer 9:00 - 18:00 Winter 09:00 - Sundown
Last admission: 30 minutes before closing
Carpark operates at same opening times as listed above
ADMISSION PRICES IN 2016
Adult Admission €13
Student/Seniors (over 60) €11
Children (8-16 years, under 8s free) €5
Family (2 adults + 2 children) €32
You can buy tickets online.
T: +353 (0) 21 438 5252
ALLOW 2 - 3 hours
Blarney is a very beautiful little village in Ireland. If there were not castle or stone in Blarney, it would still be a nice place for a day trip. But there is a castle, and there is a Blarney Stone, which are the main attractions to see in Blarney. The castle is over 600 years old and is one of Irelands big tourist attractions. There is lot of history attached to the castle. The castle you see today is the the third to have been built here. The original building was in the tenth century and made of wood. It was rebuilt in stone around 1210, and the one standing today was completed in 1446.
The cost for admission is 10 euros for adults. We paid an additional 5 euros to tour Blarney House which is also on the property.
It is unlikely that you will be visiting Blarney if you don't have intentions to visit Blarney Castle. Originally built nearly six hundred years ago as the home of Chieftain Cormac McCarthy, the Castle is the home of the Blarney Stone (also called the Stone of Eloquence), said to give the "gift of the gab" and leave a person who kisses it never lost for words again.
The Castle has been visited by many famous people and famous orators, including Sir Walter Scott and William Churchill, who are said to have kissed the stone.
Opening Hours :
Monday to Saturday
* May : 9.00am to 6.30pm
* Jun-Jul-Aug : 9.00am to 7.00pm
* Sept : 9.00am to 6.30pm
* Oct-Apr : 9.00am to sundown
* Summer: 9.00am to 5.30pm
* Winter: 9.00am to sundown
Last admissions 30 minutes before closing
Entrance Fees (valid October 2008) :
Adult Admission : Euro 10
Student/Seniors : Euro 8
Children (8-14 years) : Euro 3.50
Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) : Euro 23.50
Address: Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland
Directions: The bus will drop you near the Tourist Office in Blarney. Head towards the village square and turn left. The entrance for Blarney Castle is immediately ahead of you.
Phone: +353 21 4385252
Although I was told by some people to avoid Blarney Castle because it was a bit of a tourist trap, I went anyway since we were staying within walking distance of the castle. We timed our visit to get there shortly after it opened at 9 am which was a good decision as there were only about 10 or so other people at the top of the castle and no line at all to kiss the Blarney Stone. Around 10:30am, the tour buses started to arrive and they were all flooding in as we left.
The current castle is the 3rd castle on this site, it was built in 1446 by the King of Munster, Dermot MacCarthy. The Castle was taken by Oliver Cromwell's men in 1646, it was restored to the MacCarthy's in 1661 but the MacCarthy's left the castle for good in 1690 when Donagh MacCarthy was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He eventually escaped and went to France but the family never returned to the Castle. I'm not sure when the castle became totally uninhabited but the interior is now mostly gone. On your way up to the Blarney Stone, you will pass through what's remaining of the castle with explanations on how each room was used.
Admission to the Castle is currently 10E, check the website below for updated prices and opening times. The Castle itself did not appear to be handicap accessible, the website says that you can view the stone from below it but there is no way to go up to where it is without climbing a lot of stairs.
For entrance into the Castle and grounds, you first need to purchase your ticket!
Handing over 10 Euros entitled me to enter the castle, kiss the Blarney Stone and wander around Rock Close.
We had a short while to wait at the turnstyles - I can't imagine how long this would take when it's busy!
Prices and conditions are displayed, so you can read these while you're waiting (pic 2 + 3)
May and September 0900 - 1830
June to August 0900 - 1900
October - April 0900 - Sundown or 1800
Summer - 0900 - 1800
Winter - 0900 - Sundown or 1700
Adults - 10 Euros
60+ - 8 Euros
Students - 8 Euros
8-14 yrs - 3.50 Euros
Family (2 adults 2 children) 23.50 Euros
The lady in the ticket office was very helpful - she spotted Gillybobs case, and offered to keep it for her in a room nearby.
There were guide books for sale. I purchased one 'Blarney Castle, the story of a legend' for 3 euros. This was pocket sized, and had lots of useful information, including a guided tour of the Castle and grounds.
Address: Blarney Castle, Blarney, County Cork
Directions: From the village Green, follow the sign posts, or the crowds!
Blarney Castle was originally a timber hunting lodge built in the 10th century, which was replaced by a stone castle in 1210. The present day construction was completed in 1446. The Castle remained the ancestral stronghold of the McCarthy family until the arrival of Oliver Cromwell in 1646. Fifteen years later with the arrival of King Charles II on the English throne saw the return of the McCarthys to the Castle.
Following the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, all Irish chiefs were stripped of their powers and the McCarthys were again forced to leave Blarney Castle. The Castle was sold to Sir James Jefferyes, Governor of Cork in 1703. The Castle is now owned and managed by the Trustees of the Blarney Castle Estate.
Over 300,000 people visit Blarney Castle every year and some hike 1,000 acres of magnificent woodlands that surrounds it.
Address: 8km (5 miles) from Cork City
Back on terra firma - and clutching our tickets from the photographer, we approached the kiosk desk. Two bored looking assistants were serving the small crowd.
Handing over my ticket, I waited to view my photo. I'd expected to see a rack of photos waiting, instead they were displayed on a screen for you (and everyone else) to view. I hadn't realised that there are actually 2 screens- one is at the opposite end of the kiosk.
The photo's aren't cheap - 10 euros for 1, 18 euros for 2 pics!!! Well, normally I wouldn't have bothered even thinking about buying a photo of myself, but I did quite like them- So I decided that it was a souvenir of a one off activity. Even if I return to Blarney one day, I'd be unlikely to kiss the stone again. So I handed over my cash and in return got my photos in a card frame, with a 'certificate' of my visit printed on the inner fold.
I suppose that I could have put this in the Tourist Trap tips, in which case, an alternative to this would be - 'Be ready with your camera, and photograph your photograph when its displayed on the screen! There are no notices saying that you can't do this - YET!!
Besides purchasing your photo, there is an array of souvenirs (or tat!). There are also shops near the exit and in Blarney selling similar items. So you might prefer to wait until then to buy any items, especially if like us, you decide to walk around The Rock Close.
So we'd completed another one of those '100 Things To Do Before You Die' items, and headed for the exit staircase. This leads to the kitchens.
The staircase is very narrow, only allowing one person to walk down. This is another of the Castles defences. If enemy troops entered the castle and got this far, they could only advance to the battlements one at a time. So, a soldier standing at the door, wielding a sword or axe etc, could easily wound or kill him, leaving him to fall backwards onto his fellow attackers below him, forcing a retreat, and presumably being slaughtered or captured by the castles soldiers at the bottom of the staircase.
The kitchen was sited next to the Banqueting Hall. As it was in the upper part of the tower, there was less chance of the castle being burnt down completely. Food would have been cooked on a huge log fire, sited under a chimney shaft. Presumably huge vats of boiling water and oil would have been prepared here also, to pour over the battlements onto enemy troops.
After climbing all of the Castle steps, you reach the roof, and the Battlements. Catch your breath and admire the panoramic view! On the day that we visited, it was raining, but this probably added to the atmosphere. The 360 degree view over the estate, with the Autumnal colours of the trees and shrubs was quite impressive.
The Estate has 1,130 acres of land, which includes 730 acres of forest plantations, Avenues and Parkland (400 acres) and Blarney Lake, which covers 22.5 acres.
So, while you're queueing for your chance to kiss the Blarney Stone, you can admire the scenery, and also note some of the architecture of the battlements.
The large stone flagstones that comprise the walkway, are in an apex shape, which allows water to drain from all 4 sides. The battlements themselves are in a machiolated style - The fringe of stonework which surrounds the top of the castle, is built out from the castle walls, supported by corbels, (stone joists).
In the walls are the narrow slits, where the archers could be protected by the thick stone wall, as they fired arrows at any attackers.
Around the inner walls are plenty of info plaques to read while you stand in line. They describe some of the history, legends, famous visitors etc.