At Blarney Castle in the south of Ireland, the Blarney Stone promises eloquence to anyone who kisses it and the adjacent park hides mystical rock formations and secluded gardens.
Blarney Castle is located in the village of the same name in the south of Ireland about nine kilometres north of the Irish city of Cork.
Blarney Castle has existed since the 10th century, and in 1210 the formerly wooden castle was replaced by the present stone castle. In 1446, Blarney Castle was enlarged by the King of Munster, Dermot McCarthy and chosen as his family seat. The castle was briefly captured by Oliver Cromwell, but after his death Blarney Castle reverted to the McCarthy family estate. Before the Duke of Malborough, the McCarthy clan fled to France at the end of the 17th century and over the next 200 years Blarney Castle passed through the hands of several owners.
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Visit to Blarney Castle
The village of Blarney, which surrounds Blarney Castle, is totally geared towards tourism. Since the 19th century, many visitors have come to Blarney Castle, including Winston Churchill, a descendant of the Duke of Malborough.
From the entrance to the actual castle, an 800m long path leads through the picturesque garden surrounding the castle. After about 5min, the majestic walls emerge from the lush green Irish countryside. In the vaults of the ground floor there are some well-preserved fireplace rooms to visit, then it is already 120 steps of winding corridors up to the wall of the "Towerhouse". The outer walls are not exactly perfectly secured and have already caused one or two dizzy spells. However, the many visitors are happy to put up with this, as they have only come to Blarney Castle for one reason.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The famous Blarney Stone came to Blarney Castle in 1314. Cormac McCarthy supported Robert the Bruce of Scotland with 5,000 men in the Battle of Bannockburn against England. After the English King Edward II was defeated, he was presented with the "Stone of Destiny" or "Coronation Stone" - the present Blarney Stone - in gratitude, which is said to be half of the Stone of Scone brought by Crusaders from the Holy Land. The stone was kept safely in the castle and was henceforth the coronation site of Scottish kings. Blarney Stone was named after Dermont McCartyh, the Lord of Blarney, who once refused Queen Elizabeth I her tax payments by making lazy excuses until she angrily thought she had had enough of this Blarney. Thus arose the legend that one must kiss the stone in order to gain the gift of free speech. Thus, the famous stone was soon widely known as the "Stone of Eloquence".
Especially in the English-speaking world, the Blarney Stone is a popular tourist attraction. Every year, around 200,000 tourists come to kiss the Blarney Stone. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. The Blarney Stone is located in the wall of the upper battlements. To make it work, you have to stand with your back to the wall, bend backwards and kiss the Blarney Stone upside down. As there is a 30-metre drop between the floor of the castle and the Blarney Stone, it takes a certain amount of courage to achieve eloquence.
Walk through Blarney Garden
Once you have given the Blarney Stone its obligatory kiss, a relaxing walk through the castle gardens is recommended. The park around Blarney Castle is worth seeing not only for its lush vegetation but also for its impressive rock formations. Murmuring streams littered with penny coins flow through the "Druid's Circle", the jungle-like fern garden and the "Poison Garden" with deadly plants from all over the world.
At Rock Close, a small castle, idyllic walks lead through woods of yew and oak, with a mystical touch of druids. The "witches' cave" and the "wishing staircase" hide in the undergrowth. In spring, thousands of blossoms transform the garden of Blarney Castle into a colourful carpet, and in autumn, the treetops impress in bright orange, red and gold.