Visit Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle is located in County Cork and it is easily accessible from Cork (the second biggest city in Ireland). You can get there either by car or by bus 215 going from Cork Bus Station (Parnell Place) - it takes only about 20 minutes to get there. If it's your first time travelling to Blarney Castle and you're not sure where to get out from the bus, don't be afraid to ask a driver - they are used to it and are willing to tell you where to get off.
When you get off the bus, you'll see immediately guidepost to Blarney Castle, so you donť have to be afraid, that you'll get lost. And the entrance to Blarney Castle is only few tens meters far away.
Entering Blarney Castle
The entrance fee to Blarney Castle is not cheap - if you are not a senior or a child, be prepared to pay €13. It was there, in Blarney Castle when I heard one man saying "Get the full experience" and that's what it is really about. The entrance fee doesn't include only the entrance to Blarney Castle itself, but you can spend there all day visiting its magnificent and magical gardens, crawl through dungeons, admire the Blarney House, kiss the Blarney Stone or visit the Stable Yard Café. But let's take it slowly.
When you enter Blarney Castle estate, you won't see Blarney Castle immediately. You have to pass a long alley leading to the castle itself. When I was there, the trees in the alley were dressed in crocheted covers - it was very surprising and unique sight. After getting through the alley, you will find yourself beneath the Castle. There you can find the entrance to dungeons - it's just a long, narrow and low stony corridor, but if you feel adventurous, go for it. After you leave dungeons, just follow the road around the Castle and you will be on crossroads. From this point, you can go to the gardens, enter the Castle or visit the café.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
Let's say we will first enter Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is that tall, rectangular tower house and except the famous Blarney Stone, there is almost nothing in there - just a few empty rooms and narrow staircases. Trust me, you will have a lot of time to take a good look at those rooms. The reason is simple - the Blarney Stone is one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland, so no matter the day or hour, there probably be a long queue of people waiting to kiss the Blarney Stone.
The Blarney Stone is supposed to be a half of the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny (Scotland kings were crowned on this stone), which was given to McCarthy (rebuilder of the castle) by king. The legend says, that whoever will kiss the Blarney Stone will receive the Gift of the Gab. Among those who visited Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone was also Winston Churchill.
When you want to kiss the Blarney Stone, you are supposed to lay on your back, hold two black rods on the wall and with your head tilted back you can kiss the stone. Don't be worry, there is a person who will help you and tell you what to do. You will also have a photo taken. You can decide whether you will buy it or not. If you do, prepare €10 and you will receive a certficated photo of yourself kissing the Blarney Stone.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
Walking through the Gardens
If you plan to visit Blarney Castle, make sure you will reserve the whole day for the visit. The castle itself is not that big and it will take you max one hour to get to the Blarney Stone, but the gardens are overwhelming and you wouldn't want to miss them.
Just beside the Castle, there is a small garden full of toxic and poisonous plants. In this Poison Garden you can find for example Mandrake, Hydrangea or Cannabis. Some of those poisonous plants are used for medical treatments.
From this point onwards, you can plan your garden visit as you wish. You can go and visit Fern Garden, Bog Garden, walk to the Blarney House or take a lon walk (about 45 minutes) to the lake.
Fern Garden is very lovely garden full of tree like ferns (I was very surprised when I saw them in Ireland for the first time), stony staircases, you can also find there hidden wooden statue, wooden bridge or small waterfall. You can visit Ice House next to Fern Garden as well.
Another interesting place to visit is the Blarney House from the eighteenth century (it was reconstructed when I was there, so I couldn't go in, but it is still very beautiful house). It is located in the Arboretum and surrounded with magnificent hydrangeas. From there, you can either return to the Castle and go on to the Stable Yard Café for a nice cup of tea or coffee or bowl of vegetable soup, or you can connect to Lake walk and continue walking to the lake.
If you decided to return to the Castle, just beside the café, there is a garden called Rock Close with a lot of interesting monuments and places. Especially children will love this part of the Gardens.
In the Rock Close, you can find the oldest trees in the Castle's estate - it is a group of three Yews and they are supposed to be around 600 years old. Besides the trees, there is a small waterfall with a nice wooden path above the water. You can also find a group of seven monoliths built in a circle.
There is also a staircase called Wishing Steps - the legend says that if you go down the stairs with you eyes closed, your wish will come true. Just in case, I went up and down with my eyes closed, so I will see in one year whether my wish will come true.
Just next Wishing Steps, there is Witches Stone. Another legend says, that there is a witch bewitched in this stone and after the dusk the witch transform back into the human being. You can visit Witches Kitchen, Sacrificial Altair, Druid's Circle, Druid's Cave of Fairy Glade there as well.
As you can see, Blarney Castle and its Gardens are really beautiful and there are lots of places of interest for people of every age - be it a child, an adult of a senior. Everyone can find there something he/she likes. So, if you ever will have a way to Cork, try to plan your visit to Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. Who knows, you really might be gifted the Gift of the Gab and kissing the Blarney Stone is listed in 99 things you have to do before you die. :-) So definitely go for it. It's worth it.
Blarney Castle is really easy to find and very beatiful place to visit.