Legend says that if you climb the 125 narrow, spiral steps to the top of Blarney Castle, near Cork, lie on your back hanging out over a ledge, arch your back and extend your head and neck backwards as far as it can go, you’ll be able to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Your reward will be that you will become a master with words, an eloquent speaker.
Neither Marg nor I even bothered to attempt this. For starters, I’m no contortionist and this little party trick would be almost impossible at any time in any surroundings for me. Secondly, I’m not good with heights, and hanging out over that ledge did not look inviting. And then there’s the matter of 125 narrow, worn stairs to climb in my size 11 shoes. We’ve climbed a few of those narrow spiral staircases already on our travels and the climb can get pretty tiring after about fifty or sixty stairs. And my feet are too big for the stairs coming down. Oh, and also they were saying that the guy at the top who holds your legs can be a bit creepy … and he wants a tip when you’re done. And then when you get back to ground level, they want you to spend 10 euros on a photo of the event. None of that appealed to me, so when I saw the queue starting to form at the bottom of the staircase, my mind was made up. Someone else could go up there and kiss that stone. Marg was of the same opinion.
So we stayed at ground level watching some of our travelling companions up top inserting their bodies into a gap and arching backwards to plant a kiss on the stone. One after another they went in rapid succession, while the creepy guy held onto them. There are bars for safety there now, though they haven’t always been there. Soon enough they were all back at ground level clutching their photos of the evidence that they had really kissed the fabled stone. Good on them for that. That’s better than I could manage.
Nevertheless, there is much more to Blarney Castle than just kissing the stone. It is an impressive, robust stone tower, which is still largely intact after almost 600 years. There’s plenty to admire about the castle from the ground and lower levels.
The castle is located within an extensive, beautiful garden setting. One garden bed houses poison plants, which, I assume, probably had a number of important functions in the medieval era. There are gently flowing streams, waterfalls, ferny glades and woodland forest paths to explore and admire. There are traditional flower gardens and arbours. More text follows the next set of photos.
One thing I really enjoyed was wandering along the paths and keeping an eye out for the small metal sculptures located throughout the gardens. The goat and the eagle were my personal favourites.
I wasn’t disappointed about not kissing the Blarney Stone. Instead, I was really pleased to have been able to spend a couple of hours enjoying the views and exploring the surroundings. It was this that sets Blarney Castle aside from others we have visited. Blarney Castle was special.