Southwest Ireland is considered one of the most visited regions in Ireland, and anyone passing through there can understand why. This is thanks to the extraordinary combination of monuments, quiet roads, lively pubs, and most important: bike-friendly paths
I decided to dedicate this post on our trip out to Cork, the "Gateway City." Cork is Ireland's second-largest city with a population of over 180,000.
About 8 kilometers of Cork, resides the Blarney Castle. The Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold which originally dates back from 1200. It is now a partial ruin with some accesible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies one of the best known attractions in the area- The Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone said to contain "the ability to deceive without offending", this is due to an early legend involving the goddess Cliodhna.
Millions of people, including tourists and locals, visit this stone and acrobatically kiss the stone and tour the castle's grounds.
I am sure many of you have read the stories and seen the pictures of people slobbering the stone, but let me tell you- this is not easily acheived. In order to touch the stone with your lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, lean over backwords and sit back up, prefreably alive, and with a bit more luck then what they had before. If preforming this act did not trigger a fear of heights, I take my hat off to you.
Despite being one of the most contaminated attractions in the world, the expreince was truly unforgettable. If kissing a tourist attraction is not your thing, I do recommend touring the castle's extensive gardens.
For a fee of 12 EUR (2013), you can spend a whole day in the park. This includes the ruins of Blarney Castle with the stone, a vast landscape with paths and gardens, the Rock Close and many more. It makes a good day trip destination from Cork, especially if you are looking for parks and/or are travelling with kids.
Most people are attracted by the stone which is said to give those who kiss it the gift of eloquency. You have to send down backwards to kiss it where you will be assisted by some guys which also desinfect the stone after every kiss. Give them a tip, if you want but do not buy the picture taken by the automatic camera which is a complete rip-off. You can let someone else take a picture of you kissing the stone for free. Go for the stone very early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the queues. Off-season, you may not even have to queue at all. If you come early morning and are only interested in the Castle and park (Without the rest of Blarney), you may do this as a half-day trip only and have some more time for Cork.
Prepare your Blarney trip well. Blarney is a very touristy place where busloads of tourists arrive by the minute. It is best avoided altogether in summertime when a peeaceful park with a beautiful castle ruin becomes as full as your average IKEA on a saturday. Be also aware about the tourist shops and check the prices of your restaurant of choice. Read the tips in the tourist trap sections, be aware what this place is about, prepare well and you will not be disappointed by this place. I liked it pretty much, but I imagine that I would have been disappointed if the park would have been completely crowded.
There are frequent buses between Cork and Blarney, taking around 30 minutes per trip. Please refer to the Blarney pages for more details on that.
We weren't actually going to visit this castle, as we are 'over' queueing and really didn't think we wanted to do the tourist thing. Sooooo glad we did. We were there at 9am when it opened and were one of the first people up the top. The stairs are narrow and uneven, but I'm on crutches and I managed it! TIP - don't miss the rooms on the way up as you will return a different way, and will miss them. The guys up the top were great. I felt quite safe with them holding my feet as I did the kissing thing. My hubby couldn't do it as his fear of heights was just too much. Park it's set on is beautiful. There's a manor to see and walking tracks. Also a cave used as a dungeon. Wonderful place. 5 stars!
This Medieval castle is amazing- full of the greenest grounds, trees and shrubs I've ever seen. It's as if there is a green carpet that blankets the whole area!
After being destroyed and rebuilt many times, it's ownership changed hands too. Today, the castle is a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements.
At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. My son & I did kiss the stone, but not before I made sure someone or a couple more people would hold on to me as I lie down and held on two vertical bars before letting my head tilt and then leaning backwards to kiss it! More on this on another page!
Meantime, let me rave about the surroundings of this Castle- the castle itself is not as attractive but the gardens, very English yet rustic and charming indeed! See for yourself!
A castle has existed on this site since 1210. The present-day castle was built nearly 600 years ago by Cormac McCarthy, a great Irish chieftain. The McCarthys were forced to leave their castle twice, the first time by Oliver Cromwell's cannons, and then again, and this time forever, by an order depriving all the Irish chieftains of their power after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Sitting on an 8 m high rock and with its towers reaching for the sky, in its heyday Blarney Castle must have been one of the most impressive structures in Ireland. Even now, as a magnificent ruin, it looks imposing and romantic at the same time. Looking at its windows, you expect its former residents to appear in them any time but, if you should see anyone there, they would probably be tourists on their way to kiss the Blarney Stone.
In fact, this is what a visit to the castle boils down to for many visitors, whose aim is to climb to the top of the spiral stone staircases, lie down on their back upheld by the helpful assistant and kiss the Stone, which is supposed to give you the Gift of the Gab.
The Stone itself was presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in return for his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. It is believed to be half of the magical Stone of Scone, which Scottish Kings were crowned over.
When Queen Elizabeth wanted to make Irish chieftains acknowledge her right to give them title to their own lands, Cormac Teige McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, repeatedly made use of his eloquence so as to evade the monarch's order. In the end, the Queen announced that he was giving her 'a lot of Blarney'. You are supposed to acquire this skill too on kissing the Blarney Stone. Who knows, it might come in handy some day.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday - 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. in May and September,
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. - July and August
9 a.m. to sundown - from October to April
Admission fees: Castle & Garden - EUR 8, Castle grounds only - EUR 5
If you don't feel energetic enough to climb to the top of the castle, just take a stroll around its beautifully landscaped gardens or visit the 19th century Blarney House overlooking Blarney Lake. The house has a large collection of period furniture, family portraits and other works of art. In the summer you can join a conducted tour of the place.
If you'd rather be outdoors, walk to the Rock Close nearby, the mysterious garden with two Druidic dolmens, a sacrificial stone and strangely shaped rocks, one of which looks like a witch with her hat lying nearby. Walk along the lovely lanes overshadowed by beautiful old trees, admire the flowering shrubs or just sit on a bench enjoying the clear air and the view of the castle towering above you.
Well, we couldn't stay so close to Blarney and not take a trip out to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, could we! It's a bit cheesy I admit, but I couldn't resist. I wouldn't do it again though as I found it so frightening - you lie on your back and put your head down a hole, and then stretch to kiss, while somebody holds your legs. All I could see was the ground way below me, and I couldn't get up again fast enough!
As you can imagine it gets extremely busy at the Castle, so to avoid queuing for your kiss it might be best to go to the tower first thing in the morning, then you can spend some time afterwards exploring the gardens of the castle.
There isn't much in Blarney itself other than the 'Woollen Mills', which is like a huge souvenir shop (and which seems to be part of the general coach tours to the town).
My first day out of Cork City and one of my main reasons for going to Cork was to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. I don't know if it worked, but I certainly enjoyed my day out.
The bus ride was fairly painless, though I had to stand all the way. At only about 6 euros for a return ticket, it's well worth the 20 or so minute journey. Finding the stop is straight forward - once you know! It's actually across the road from the main departure points, outside the big department store. I was there around lunch time in February and had to stand all the way, so be prepared to go early or wait around for a while if the bus is full.
We all piled out into the tiny village which seems to be no more than a long street. The Castle grounds are a short walk from the bus stop, no sign posts needed - just follow the crowds.
This is a most do trip if in Cork a visit to Blarney Castle and to kiss the Blarney Stone. The castle that you see is the third castle on this site ,the first would have been a wooden stockade structure built around the 10thcent followed at a later date with a stone structure in the 12th cent .the present building constructed by DERMONT MacCARTHY King of Munster in 1446 is a15thcent tower house little remains today but the keep (Tower houses were small castles or fortified residences built between 15th /17th cent .the tall square house was defended by a stone wall forming a enclosure used for defence and as a cattle pen .Machicolations (projecting parapets form which to drop missiles) were sited at the top of the house) Blarney also has murder holes at the entrance to the castle to pour boiling tar on invaders ,the base walls of the castle are 18ft thick to withstand any attempt knock the walls down .slit windows for bowmen are further up the walls and battlement ramparts sit atop the tower so the kings soldiers could rain stones and boiling liquids on the besiegers below
The towers that are outside the keep were present in the outside defensive wall but only a few remain today
The Blarney Stone is atop of the battlements you have to climb up the medieval stone steps once at the top you get fine views of the surrounding countryside as you wait in line to kiss the stone, to kiss the stone a man holds your legs as you lean over backwards down to the stone. The stone was at one time the battlement latrine
Take a walk around the Rock Close which dates from druid times it has a few interesting features and unusual plants along the side of the River Blarney .Most of the stones stand were they have stood for thousands of years ,the yew tree above the witches kitchen is dated to be a thousand years old. So take a walk to the wishing steps, druids’ altar and the witch’s kitchen
see my blarney castle page
Yep, it had to be done, a visit to Blarney Castle and its high-rise rock smooching spectaculair. All I know is that kissing the Blarney Stone gives you the 'gift of the gab'. As to why, well I never found out!!
Its actually not too bad an experience. 25 minutes by bus from the centre of Cork, Blarney is a smallish village with a woollen mill, lots of gift shops and the Castle. The Castle is set in a large leafy parkland and, once you climb to the top of the tower you have great views over the area.
You can also help poison the fish by throwing some money into the river. Well it sparkled beautifully in the Spring sunchine ;-)
So I did put my fate in the hands of a nonchalant grey haired Irishman, who held onto me as I slid back to put a smacker on the Castle wall. I was surprised how few people were... ahem... brave enough to do it, most of them walked straight by!!
And I have paid the 9 Euros for the photo (taken by a nonchalant bearded Irishman) of me slipping back over the precipice.
Anyway, it doesn't work, so there! As an English lady was telling everyone loudly as she sat by the entrance to the Castle Keep. She had kissed the stone 39 years ago and it still hadn't had any affect, she said. And looking at all the quiet, glum people sitting on the return bus, probably turning over in their minds how they had cheated death to become more talkative, I don't... blah, blah[continued p.94]
It just has to be done doesn't it. Go up a spiral staircase into the battlements at the very top of the castle and you will find the Blarney Stone or the Stone of Eloquence to give it it's proper title.
If you kiss the stone you are said to have the gift of eloquence bestowed upon you - or more commonly known as being given the gift of the gab!
WARNING: Kissing the stone is a complicated affair and I would advise anyone with a bad back to think twice about the excercise as you have to lie down and then lean right back and down to do it. There is a man on standby to steady you. There is also a photographer who takes a picture of everyone doing it and gives you a ticket and you can order your photo at a later date should you wish to do so - I think you get a month or something like that....
There is a gift shop at the castle and you can by an "I Kissed the Blarney Stone" certificate but I can't remember how much it was?
The gardens are very pretty and worth a walk round.
Blarney castle is actually the third to have been built on the site, the first being a wooden structire erected around 1210AD.
Opening Hours as follows:
Monday to Saturday
May: 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Jun-Jul-Aug: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept: 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Oct-Apr: 9 a.m. to sundown (or 6 p.m.)
Summer: 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Winter: 9.30 a.m. to sundown
Last Admissions: 30 minutes before closing
The Castle is open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
ADULT: Euro 7
SENIOR CITIZEN: Euro 5
CHILDREN (8 - 14 years): Euro 2.50
FAMILY (2 Adults, 2 Children): Euro 16
The day I visited Blarney Castle for the first time was my birth day, on September 28th. Actually it was a nice gift from my husband to take me there.
Blarney Castle is famous for its stone - The Stone of Eloquence - which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Of course my husband kissed it but I didn't want to. It seems I won't be able to be eloquent!
The first building in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face. This building was demolished for foundations. In 1446 the third castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster of which the keep still remains standing.