One more Ireland post after this one. Something that was on my bucket list for Ireland was to go inside a castle. We had passed a few that were closed or no viewing was allowed, but we weren’t detered.
There are many famous places and spaces in Ireland, and probably the most famous would be Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. We left Cork and drove north and a little west to our final night’s stay with the mission to see Blarney Castle on our way. The weather was great, which it really was for the majority of our trip.
I guess I didn’t realize that Blarney Castle was castle grounds with gardens and such. I thought of it more as ‘just’ a ruin.
This was one of those “I can’t believe we are here” moments:
Anyway, a bit about the mythology of the Blarney Stones (as relayed by our B&B host). One legend says that there was a king who had difficulty speaking with some sort of speech impediment. He was out one day and saw a woman drowning. He saved her and she turned out to be some sort of fairy queen. She wanted to reward him with a kiss, but could not actually kiss him on the lips. So, she kissed a rock and told him to kiss that spot. When he did, his speech impediment was gone. Hence the ‘gift of gab’. I’m not sure how that rock ended up in Blarney Castle, but the rest is history. Of course, that’s just one of many legends of the stone.
The castle is quite impressive, even from a distance:
Waaaaay up at the top is the Blarney Stone. Yes. You have to climb all the stairs to get to the top.
This castle is huge. This is the bell tower here, which is a lot shorter than the castle itself.
Underneath is a rocky cave that probably was used as a prison. I climbed in there and even for a shorty like me, I was quite crouched over.
Even with that light it was so dark that I couldn’t hold my camera still long enough to get a good shot. I ended up using a rock as a tripod to take it.
Here is me coming out through a tiny door:
Almost to freedom there!
As you climbed up all the stairs, you come across different rooms, like a bedroom:
It’s fun to imagine this castle with all its finery, tapestries and full of fire and warmth (hopefully).
The spiral stairs up to the top were really narrow and steep. No railings except sometimes there was a rope to grab:
I think if you fell you wouldn’t actually go down very far because of how narrow it is. You’d just get stuck and stop LOL.
Between crouching through the cave and these stairs, the castle did give the quads a workout, I have to say.
Finally at the top!
It’s all open at the top. This is the line to kiss the stone. You actually have to go through the line to go back down, but you don’t have to kiss the stone.
This is the view looking over the railing into the castle.
Personally, I think kissing the stone is kind of gross. They did have a bottle of some solution sitting by the helper, but I didn’t see him use it. Not to mention that I was sick, so who would want to kiss the stone after me? Yuck. Anyway, this picture is how you kiss the stone (from the official website)
There is a holder to assist you. Just to the left out of the picture is a camera person up on a chair taking a picture as you kiss the stone, which you can then buy at the souvenir shop (of course). It’s open to air and you are warned no hats or glasses and nothing in your pockets or it will end up down below.
I was way more interested in the view from the top of the castle. It was really something:
I am a squidge afraid of heights, so I was a little nervous up here, but I managed to peek over the wall and take a picture straight down:
Not sure if you can see the person by the bench just about in the middle. They were actually taking a picture upward, so I guess I photobombed them 😀
Anyway, very, very cool.
Blarney Castle has a lot of grounds to explore as well. There are a bunch of different gardens like the poison garden:
Every single plant in this garden is poisonous in some way. Nothing was really in bloom at this time except some monkshood. There were the usual suspects like castor plant, nightshade, cannabis (yes the plant was there!), poppies, foxglove and lily of the valley. Some were surprising to me like irises, rhododendrun, and larkspur. I had no idea! I actually have quite a few poisonous plants in my garden. Oopsie.
This was the herbaceous border:
I never did find out what those cloth things were for. Maybe just decoration.
There are stables on the property, which aren’t used for horses now, but a cafe LOL!
We had a yummy scone here:
There is also a house on the property called, wait for it… Blarney House. Actually, that’s really an understatement because it’s more a mansion than anything else.
You can tour this, although it is lived in by someone. I can’t imagine living there! I would probably get lost.
So visiting a castle is now crossed off my bucket list.
This is most definitely worth the stop, whether you kiss the stone or not!