Blarney Castle is possibly the most famous Irish castle in the world. Most of this fame can be attributed to the quest for the “Gift of Gab” through the ritual of kissing the “Blarney Stone”. Holidaymakers visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are many versions of the origin of the stone, including a claim that it was the Lia Fáil — a numinous stone upon which Irish kings were crowned. Others believe that it was brought back to Ireland from the Holy Land during the Crusades.
As well as visiting the castle and kissing the Blarney stone visitors can also explore the large gardens and parkland and experience the tranquility and magic of the Rock Close.
Blarney Castle, as viewed by the visitor today, is the third to have been erected on this site. 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, of which the keep still remains standing, was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster and Lord of Muscry, who also built castles at Kilcrea and Carrignamuck.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, according to the castle’s proprietors, has been performed by “millions of people”, including “world statesmen, literary giants and legends of the silver screen.” The kiss, however, is not a casually achieved feat. To touch the stone with one’s lips, the participant must ascend to the castle’s peak, then lean over, backwards, on the parapet’s edge. This is traditionally achieved with the help of an assistant. Although the parapet is now fitted with wrought iron guide rails and protective crossbars, the ritual can still trigger attacks of acrophobia.