Kiss Me - I'm the Blarney Stone

Blarney Stone creation - just for fun!
Blarney Stone creation - just for fun! | Source
Source

Me? Kiss the Blarney Stone? Ewwwww!

The Blarney Stone is #1 of the "Top 5 Germiest World Attractions" according to a July 2009 tongue in cheek poll by TripAdvisor LLC, one of the world’s largest travel websites. (See other 4 germiest attractions in the world, below.)


Gift of Gab or Germs from Kissing the Blarney Stone
Kissing the Blarney Stone of Blarney Castle in Ireland, that over 400,000 others kiss each year, is said to endow you with very eloquent and very persuasive speech known as, “the gift of gab.”

But, it requires bending over backward and being pushed way out over a hole in a castle wall, five stories above ground, in order to bestow your kiss. Is it worth it? To many intrepid tourists it is worth risking the germs to gain the "gift of the gab".

This special gift is said to be so effective you could persuade a very powerful king or queen not to take your land. Or, you could persuade your mother-in-law, when you ask her how old she is, that you simply want to know at what age women become most beautiful.

Legend: Robert the Bruce defeating the English in the 1314 battle of Bannockburn.
Legend: Robert the Bruce defeating the English in the 1314 battle of Bannockburn. | Source
Legend: Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, aided Robert the Bruce in defeating the English in 1314
Legend: Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, aided Robert the Bruce in defeating the English in 1314 | Source
"Witch Stone" tells a brief story (legend) of the Goddess who told Cormac to kiss the first stone he saw.
"Witch Stone" tells a brief story (legend) of the Goddess who told Cormac to kiss the first stone he saw. | Source

Legend of the Blarney Stone

There are many stories about how the Blarney Stone, or "Cloch na Blarnan" in Irish, came into being and how it accrued its magical properties.

Robert the Bruce
The most commonly accepted story of where the Blarney Stone came from is that Robert the Bruce of Scotland gave it to Cormac MacCarthy of Ireland in 1314. The stone that was given to MacCarthy was actually half of the Stone of Scone, the stone on which the first King of Scots sat while being crowned in 847. Robert the Bruce gave it to Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, for aiding him in defeating the English in the 1314 battle of Bannockburn. MacCarthy installed the stone in his stronghold, Blarney Castle, where it became known as the Blarney Stone.

A century later, in 1446, King Dermot MacCarthy enlarged Blarney Castle and re-established the Blarney Stone in his new castle.

Goddess Cliodhna
My favourite story is the one involving the Goddess Clíodhna. The myth tells us that Cormac MacCarthy, the original builder of Blarney Castle, was facing a lawsuit and asked Clíodhna for her assistance in winning the case. She told MacCarthy to kiss the first stone he saw when leaving his castle next morning to go to court. When he kissed the stone he gained great powers of eloquence and persuasiveness and, as a result, won his court case. He was so impressed with the stone's powers he added it to his castle stones.

Whether the Blarney Stone came from Robert the Bruce or from the magical powers of the Goddess Clíodhna, it was introduced (so legend goes) to Blarney Castle during the reign of Cormac MacCarthy and re-established in the enlarged castle during Dermot MacCarthy's reign.

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I - victim of Blarney Castle's Laird, Dermot McCarthy's "blarney"
Queen Elizabeth I - victim of Blarney Castle's Laird, Dermot McCarthy's "blarney" | Source

Most Famous Victim of "Blarney"

Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and queen of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, demanded a true sign of loyalty from Irish nobles. She demanded that they “give” to her title to their castles and lands. The Laird of Blarney at the time was Dermot MacCarthy. He told the Queen that he would be delighted to surrender his fortress as proof of his loyalty, but he never quite got around to it.

MacCarthy's communications with the Queen were so persuasive of his loyalty to her and so flattering to the Queen herself, Elizabeth never actually secured his castle and lands. She finally realized this and is said to have flung down his letter in pique saying,

“Oh! He’s just giving me a lot more blarney!!!”

Stonehenge and Blarney Stone made of Preseli Bluestone

The real Blarney Stone is not a rock on the ground.  It is attached to Blarney Castle.
The real Blarney Stone is not a rock on the ground. It is attached to Blarney Castle. | Source
Stonehenge, county of Wilshire, England.  Stones made from the same material as the Blarney Stone.
Stonehenge, county of Wilshire, England. Stones made from the same material as the Blarney Stone.
Carn Menyn bluestones - dolerite slabs.
Carn Menyn bluestones - dolerite slabs.

Blarney Stone Not Lying Around on the Ground

The Blarney Stone is actually attached to Blarney Castle in Ireland. It is not lying around on the ground, or in a stream, or on a pedestal. It is nowhere else but in Ireland, attached to Blarney Castle.

Preseli Bluestone
Although we don't know the true source of the piece of stone known as the Blarney Stone, we do know it is made of the same material as the inner stones at Stonehenge. Preseli Bluestone is a type of Dolerite, a volcanic rock harder than granite. It is found only in the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire in Wales.

The ages-old mystery surrounding the Preseli Bluestone stones is, why were the Preseli Bluestones taken from Wales and carried to the Salisbury Plain in England? or, was it glacier action that took these stones to the Stonehenge area? See Wessex Archeology Online for information on the Boscombe Bowmen theory (people moved the great stones theory) or EARTH The Science Behind the Headlines for information on the Irish Sea Glacier and the possibility it carried the stones from Wales to Stonehenge.

"Magic" Healing Properties of Preseli Bluestone
Can we assume that the Blarney Stone has the same healing powers or spiritual powers that the inner stones of Stonehenge are alleged to have? If you wish to pursue this line of thought, you may want to visit the website by Simon and Sue Lilly, authors of Preseli Bluestone: Healing Stone of the Ancestors, found on Amazon.co.uk.

Blarney Castle, west of Cork in southern Ireland
Blarney Castle, west of Cork in southern Ireland
The very beautiful Blarney Castle
The very beautiful Blarney Castle | Source

Where Is the Blarney Stone?

The Blarney Stone, as many thousands of people know, is located at the very top of Blarney Castle in the village of Blarney about 5 miles (8kms) north west of Cork, in the County of Cork in southern Ireland. Precisely, for map purposes: 51.9289° N, 8.5708° W.

There are many hotels, bed-and-bath houses, restaurants, spas, and stores in the area of Blarney Castle. You could do a website search or a map search to find these excellent establishments should you wish to visit Blarney and stay for awhile.

Blarney Castle has a website of its own that describes extremely well, the location of the Blarney Stone and the very beautiful gardens and interesting sites on the Blarney grounds.

See Blarney Castle website for all the information you could want on how to enjoy this beautiful global tourist attraction.

Blarney Castle and Stone

The Blarney Stone is located above the top window.  It is part of the outer edge of the parapet floor.
The Blarney Stone is located above the top window. It is part of the outer edge of the parapet floor. | Source
The Blarney Stone is attached to the underside of the battlements and held in place by the two iron bars, shown here.
The Blarney Stone is attached to the underside of the battlements and held in place by the two iron bars, shown here. | Source
Illustration of a Machicolation
Illustration of a Machicolation | Source
This shows a person lying on his back and being held down while being pushed out to kiss the underside of the Blarney Stone.
This shows a person lying on his back and being held down while being pushed out to kiss the underside of the Blarney Stone.

Blarney Stone at the Top of Blarney Castle

Getting to where the Blarney Stone is, is a tough climb up the tight castle stairway to the very top of the parapet. In the first image to the right you will see a green arrow pointing to where this famous stone is. In the next image on the right you can see a closer view of the machicolation (hole in the floor of the outside of the parapet) above which the stone resides.

Machicolations are "Murder Holes"
Machicolations are the holes through which archers shot their arrows at invaders below or through which they poured boiling oil on top of the invaders. Machicolations are frequently built above doors or gates at the entrance to castles. See the illustration to the right.

Notice in the close-up of Blarney Castle's famous machicolation, there are bars across the bottom of the hole to protect people from dropping to the ground when they attempt to kiss the Blarney Stone. Also notice, there are two iron bars holding the Blarney Stone in place at the bottom of the wall forming the outside of the machicolation. See image to right.

Shot of Person Kissing Blarney Stone as Seen from Below
The person (in the image to the right) lying on his back, as far out as he can go, and bending his head right back, is extremely pleased that the iron bars are in place - even though he has a strong man holding on to his body while he lip-locks with the Stone.

The stairs to the parapet (roof) of Blarney Castle
The stairs to the parapet (roof) of Blarney Castle | Source
Stairs back down the Blarney Castle
Stairs back down the Blarney Castle | Source
When you get to the top you stand in line to Kiss the Blarney Stone
When you get to the top you stand in line to Kiss the Blarney Stone | Source

Tough Climb to the Top

If you really, really, really want to kiss the Blarney Stone, you must first climb 5 stories to the top of the castle. The stairs are extremely narrow, according to today's standards, and extremely steep. They are difficult to climb because they curve so you must use the outside of the steps. On top of that, there is only a narrow handrail to hold on to as you climb.

Young people have little trouble negotiating this obstacle to the "Big Smooch." Older people (forgive the generalization) have more trouble moving at a consistent rate and often hold-up people behind them wishing to move more quickly.

Larger people (again, forgive the generalization) also have difficulties moving up the staircase at a reasonable clip. The stairs are very narrow and the thought of getting stuck makes their movements more careful.

If you have trouble with claustrophobia, climbing the tight, steep, spiral staircase could be a breathtaking and painful experience.

Reaching the Top of the Castle
When finally, you break out of the confines of the climb, you can breathe fresh air (even in the rain) and move about more freely.

You are now walking on the parapet and can see over the battlements to the beautiful surrounding countryside. Being at the top puts you in the line for embracing the stone. You will know very shortly if all this effort is worth the "Kiss of a Lifetime."

View from the top of Blarney Castle
View from the top of Blarney Castle | Source

View from the Top

The unparalleled view from the top of Blarney Castle may alone be worth the effort of the climb to the top. The shades of green unfold in an impressive and magnificent display of emerald highlights and forest green shadows that reveal the splendor of the Irish countryside. This delightful beauty is a long way down, a drop to which is now prevented by the safeguards of Blarney Castle.

Lie on your back and grab the iron bars
Lie on your back and grab the iron bars | Source
Lean your head down and out under the parapet wall
Lean your head down and out under the parapet wall | Source
Kiss the Blarney Stone
Kiss the Blarney Stone | Source

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Waiting in line to kiss this very famous stone is like waiting to go on stage to perform the great kissing scene in a play. There are people watching and people taking photographs so you have some pressure to do this right. After all, this could be your 15 minutes of fame!

Although it took you time to get to Blarney Castle and time to climb the castle stairs, the line moves quickly. All of a sudden, it seems, it’s your turn.

You sit down with your back to the stone then lie on your back and start to scoot out over the machicolation. You get help all the way from the nice man who gives you directions and holds on to you throughout the whole procedure.

Grabbing the iron bars near the bottom (you are upside-down, so this is weird) you pull yourself even further out over the hole in the castle wall. Your shoulders are now over the hole and you feel very glad to have someone strong holding your legs. “Thank goodness for those iron bars beneath me,” you think, while leaning your head down as far as you can.

You must lean your head back and down far enough to position your lips evenly with the Blarney Stone itself. Slight breezes may be blowing around you. If it’s raining, someone will be holding an umbrella over you. You can smell a slight residue of sanitizer (used after every kiss) and you realize, this is it!

Smack! Click! Pull! You have Kissed the Blarney Stone, you have had your photo taken at the precise moment of doing so, and your faithful guide is pulling you up and away from the stone. It’s done! How well you did (as a great romantic actor) will probably never be known. Shaking your head slightly to regain your balance, you smile and are urged on with a hearty, “Move along now.”

Wow! What an experience! I think it's time to celebrate.

"Irish Kiss" and green colored Irish beer.
"Irish Kiss" and green colored Irish beer. | Source

Irish Kiss

4 oz Korbel California Brut Champagne

1 oz. Midori® Melon Liqueur

1/2 cup of sugar
2 drops of green food coloring
1 lime wedge or slice

Add 2 drops of green food coloring to 1/2 cup of sugar in a wide bowl or saucer and mix well.

Rub chilled fluted champagne glass with a lime wedge then dip rim of glass in the green sugar.

Pour champagne into chilled, fluted champagne glass. Pour the melon liqueur over the champagne and stir slightly.

Add slice or wedge of lime to rim of glass.

Serves one, double recipe for two.

Would YOU Kiss the Blarney Stone?

See results without voting
Wall of Gum in Seattle
Wall of Gum in Seattle
Oscar Wilde's tomb with lipstick kisses
Oscar Wilde's tomb with lipstick kisses
St Mark's Square dodging pigeons
St Mark's Square dodging pigeons
Grauman's Theater in Hollywood with Jimmy Stewart's hand and foot prints
Grauman's Theater in Hollywood with Jimmy Stewart's hand and footprints

TripAdvisor Poll "Top 5 Germiest Tourist Spots in World"

1. Blarney Stone, Blarney, Ireland -Kissed by over 400,000 mouths from all over the world each year.

2. Wall of Gum, Seattle, Washington - Visitors stick their gum to a wall in Seattle. Having been scraped down twice, it now remains as it grows.

3. Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Paris, France - Oscar Wilde's tomb in Paris' Pere-Lachaise cemetery is covered in lipstick prints of all colors and shapes.

4. St. Mark's Square, Venice, Italy - Venice's famed St. Mark's Square has thousands of hungry pigeons who let tourists touch and even hold them.

5. Grauman's Chinese Theater (Hand prints and Footprints), Hollywood, California - Tourists like to place their fingers and hands into the sidewalk prints of their favorite Hollywood stars

Irish Writers You May Enjoy

Vintage Postcard

Vintage postcard, Blarney Castle, "To Greet You on St Patrick's Day"
Vintage postcard, Blarney Castle, "To Greet You on St Patrick's Day" | Source

I will leave you with this beautiful vintage postcard of Blarney Castle and wish you a very happy St Patrick's Day wherever you are and whoever you are with.

© 2013 Marilyn Alexander

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

Sueswan 3 years ago

Hi Marilyn,

I found this hub very informative and entertaining. You would never catch me kissing the blarney stone not because of the germs but because of vertigo.

A coworker of mine from Cork has the gift of the gab. I will have to ask him if he has kissed the Blarney Stone. ;-)

Voted up and sharing

Take care and have a good week. :)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

You will never catch me kissing the Blarney Stone either. Not because of the germs but because of claustrophobia and an (new) inability to lean my head back so far without getting unbearably dizzy.

Thanks so much, Sueswan, for your kind comments. Very much appreciated.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma

When I was young and dumb, I thought kissing the Blarney Stone was a cool thing to do if I ever got to Ireland. Never occurred to me that everybody who'd kissed it before me left gawd-only-knows how many germs behind. Thanks to your well-written and perhaps toooo informative hub, making that particular pilgrimage doesn't sound "cool" at all! Just thinking about climbing 5 stories up those extremely narrow stairs AND that I could get stuck - literally - between two chubbies somewhere in the middle makes me claustrophobic. No thanks! ;D


juliecaroline profile image

juliecaroline 3 years ago from Tacoma, Washington USA

Thank you! Very well done and entertaining!


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

@JamaGenee - Thanks for your response. I was actually wanting to encourage people to at least see the Blarney Stone! Despite my tendency to claustrophobia I would still go. And if I could take precautions against germs - I would kiss the stone.

At least then I could cross it off my "bucket list". ;)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Thanks juliecaroline, for your compliments! much appreciated. Would YOU kiss the Blarney Stone?

Cheers Marilyn


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Interesting, I wouldn't kiss the Blarney stone, but i would love to visit the Grauman's Chinese Theater! Enjoyed your hub. Thank you..


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Given your name, always exploring, I'm not surprised that you would love to see the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater. It would be much easier than climbing 5 stories in a castle and it would be easier to avoid all the germs.

Thanks for commenting - good to see you!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I always wondered what the expression meant. Now, I am informed. Your post is excellent and well written. Thanks for the entertaining read and education.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi teaches - thanks for your flattering comments - very much appreciated, especially coming from you. Happy St Patrick's Day!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

What an interesting hub! I've not seen any others on this subject. It's almost St. Patty's Day, so this hub should be perfect for the next few weeks.

Remember hearing about the Blarney Stone when I was in elementary school and thinking even then how it must be filthy and disgusting. ;) I couldn't imagine that anyone would go to such trouble to put their mouth on something that must be covered with tiny critters. Some of the difficulty of getting to the stone was explained back then, but not the part about being up so high with little support.

I come from a long line of salesmen and horse breeder/traders. I think I will rely on that for my eloquence and persuasiveness and not risk the millions of narrow steps, the hanging over the wall, the germs -- and who knows what poisons are in that disinfectant they use? ;)

Seriously, this is a great hub and I very much enjoyed getting educated about the Blarney Stone. Voting it up, awesome, and going to share!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I had heard of the Blarney Stone before, but never knew the history behind it. This was very intereting. No, I would not kiss the Blarney Stone. I don't like heights first of all and secondly, just to think of all the germs makes me shiver! This is a very well written and interesting hub! Voting up and more! :)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi Au fait! Many thanks for your comments and share! When I wrote this I thought, what fun to visit Blarney castle and kiss the famous stone. But the more and more I got into it, the more I realized I might not want to kiss the stone. Certainly don't want to suggest to anyone this may not be an adventure of a lifetime. I understand that the whole experience is entertaining, educational, and exciting.

Maybe I'm just getting a little older . . .


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Good to see you, sgbrown! Amazing isn't it how wary we now are of germs. I'm sure the guides at the top of the castle keep everything as clean as they can - yet ... Thanks so much for your great comments.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I didn't mean to rain on the parade -- I do believe this would be a great adventure just to go and see everything -- your photos of Blarney Castle suggests it's really beautiful there. And so far as we know, no one has become ill or died from kissing the stone, true? People do love a mystery don't they? Maybe the Stone really does have some sort of powers!

Most of all, I love all the information you've gathered here. A unique hub with lots of historical information and it's about something that most people (if they know about it) find fascinating!


Author Cheryl profile image

Author Cheryl 3 years ago

There is no way I would kiss it let alone be an acrobat to do it. I'm hardly not fond of touching a grocery cart that has been touched by a thousand people let alone kissing a stone kissed by that many people. I am not germaphobic by any means lol


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi again, Au fait. I too did not want to rain down negatives on Blarney Castle. It does look like a beautiful and interesting adventure, doesn't it? And, actually kissing the stone must be a thrill of a lifetime! To have a T-shirt that says I kissed the real Blarney stone would also be a treat!

I understand what you are saying. Thanks for your very positive comments. Your visit is very much appreciated, as always.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hello Cheryl. Isn't it interesting how aware we are of the prevalence of germs around us. I know what you mean, when handling grocery carts makes you think twice it's hard to justify kissing a stone (or anything else, for that matter) that requires so much effort to reach in the first place.

Great to meet you. Thanks for your comments.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Kissing the Blarney Stone was never on my wish list but it is really interesting reading about the history and also the Blarney Castle where people do such things. This was an eye opener to hear about the entire process involved regarding kissing that (no doubt) germ laden stone. Up, useful and interesting votes. I really enjoyed learning about this! :)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Hi Peggy - your comments are very much appreciated. Kissing the Blarney stone always fascinated me but I, too, never put it on my wish list. I think this tourist attraction is enhanced by the legends, history, and beautiful countryside. The experience is certainly enjoyed by many, many people. Best wishes, Peggy.

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