Kiss Me - I'm the Blarney Stone
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
For All You Globe-trotting Smoochers
Would YOU Kiss the Blarney Stone?See results without voting
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
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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
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