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I first heard about the Blarney Stone when I was about 11 years old and a friend of mine went to Ireland with her family. She told me all about how she had to lean way over this gaping hole to kiss a magical rock that supposedly makes you talk real good.
I was enchanted and immediately added it to my bucket list.
So when Leslie and I were planning our trip, the Blarney Stone was one of the top ten places I was most excited to visit.
The main order of business, of course, was kissing the stone. We climbed up to the very top of the castle, waited in a long line, and then had about five seconds each to lay down and kiss the Blarney Stone. It was way less scary than it looks because there’s a grate to keep you from falling to your death—but it was still a thrill.
And then I started thinking about all the other millions of people who have kissed it and I got a little grossed out. I guess the gift of gab comes from making out with a gazillion strangers…
Leslie says, “I loved all the narrow stairs and how you could easily lose your sense of direction. It was interesting to see the layout, like the fact that the kitchen was on one of the upper floors. I wish the line to kiss the blarney stone wasn’t so long, so I didn’t feel like I was being hurried out without getting a decent picture… I kissed a stone full of sooooo many germs and turns out the gift of the blarney isn’t real? Darn!”
Blarney Castle was built in the late 1480s by Cormac MacCarthy. (Not the American Novelist—that’s Cormac McCarthy.) Shortly thereafter, he was killed by his own brother, Eoghan, who was then killed by his revengeful nephew, Cormac Og.
Maybe they should have kissed the Blarney Stone and talked about their problems instead of just running around and killing each other.
As it turns out, there is more to Blarney Castle to enchanted you than just the famous stone. The grounds are spectacular and vast, and we easily could have spent an entire day there.
Leslie said, “I remember looking at the map and being sad that we had to decide what to see and what to skip for lack of time. I would also recommend people give themselves an entire day to spend here simply because it’s beautiful and there was so much we didn’t get to see.”
One particularly amusing section was the Poison Garden, which was full of all sorts of fun and deadly plants. There were mushrooms, nightshade, crab apples (included because the pips contain cyanide), and this lovely green plant with five-pointed leaves that I hear is really popular in states like Oregon.
While wandering around a forested area of the grounds, Leslie noticed a group of American women trying to get a picture in a huuuuuge Thuja Plicata tree. She offered to take their picture, and we struck up a conversation with them. Turns out, they were from Holiday, UT, and they were LDS! It was a mother, several daughters, and a daughter in law, and they were just finishing a week-long, girls only vacation in Ireland. They were absolutely delightful, and I regret not getting a picture with them.
We probably spent the most time in the Rock Close. It’s a natural playground full of rocks (obviously), ponds, waterfalls, jungle plants, and mysterious caves and passages. We even saw a leprechaun, but he got away before I snapped a picture. 😉
When we left Blarney Castle, we drove through Killarney National Park to get to our hostel for the night. The mountains were lovely, especially shrouded in storm clouds as they were. We actually got a nice long view of those mountains and those clouds after we checked into the hostel and asked the owner where the nearest grocery store was. He directed us to a Lidl, which was “just a few miles away.”
Yeeeaaaah. We drove for an hour before we found it.
But with views like that, who can complain?
Read more about my trip with Leslie here.
If you're planning a trip, here are some sites that I've found especially useful:
Booking.com is a great resource for cheap accommodations. They have a good variety of both hotels and hostels, so no matter your budget, you're bound to find something to suit.
Hostelworld is also good for cheap accommodations if you're digging the hostel scene.
TripAdvisor has a lot of very useful information, from reviews of attractions and travel-related businesses to forums where you can ask your questions and have them answered by locals or travel experts.
Planning a trip to Ireland? Be sure to add Blarney Castle to your itinerary!