Day two of our trip started with muffins from the local Sainsburys and an early morning drive. We were headed from Kilkenny to Killarney today, but wanted to make a half-day pitstop in Blarney. We got on the road early to make sure we were at the Blarney Castle when it opened at 9am- we knew we didn’t want to spend our day in lines.
Brad was very wary about even coming here. The folklore behind the Blarney Stone is interesting and fun to me, but dumb and silly to Brad. Waiting in line and paying to kiss a rock that a million other people have kissed? Not up Brad’s alley. But I love learning about the local culture and folklore and taking part where I can. After all was said and done, Brad and I BOTH really loved our day trip to Blarney.
We started with the obvious, kissing the Blarney Stone. The legend behind the Blarney Stone says that anyone who kisses it will be rewarded with the “gift of gab,” basically the gift of eloquent speech and the ability to speak in a persuasive manner.
Getting there early allowed us to literally walk up, explore the cool tower castle, and experience kissing the stone with about a 3 minute line. When we exited, the a line marker told us the current wait time was an hour. Getting there at 9am made all the difference in the world.
To get the gift of gab- you have to really want it. It’s positioned about two feet away from the interior castle wall, and a few feet down under your feet. You have to lay down, reach back and grab onto some support bars, and pull yourself back and downwards towards the stone. Don’t worry- there is a guy there to help you. It’s silly, but it’s a fun tradition to take part in, just for the hell of it. But it is a little bit unnerving to lay backwards and let a stranger guide you over a giant opening. But hey. When in Ireland, right?
Note: I DID receive the gift of gab in the very same way eight years ago. Do the two times I have kissed the stone negate each other?? Hmm.
After we received the gift of gab, we spent a few hours exploring the castle itself and wandering around the grounds. This is where Brad really got into his element. The castle was cool and creepy and there were signs in each room giving us little history lessons.
Our favorite part was learning about THE MURDER HOLE. There was a grate in the floor on the second story where people could watch intruders enter the foyer. If they were unwelcome, the grate gave easy access for them to toss down a pot of boiling water or a shoot fire arrow towards the intruders. Serious security system.
Outside of the castle, there are miles and miles of trails and gardens to explore on the Blarney Castle Grounds. The grounds are mysterious, and quiet, and beautiful! It was a really fun part of this excursion. We only had a few hours, so we chose some specific areas to explore like the Rock Close.
After you went through that door cut in the stone… it was like entering a little world of fairies. It was dense, wet, and like a bizarre little rainforest in Ireland. It was full of tropical plants, tons and tons of varieties of hostas, and waterfalls. The rock close transitioned into the fern gardens and other pathways around the grounds.
Overall, the our visit to the Blarney Castle was amazing. We really enjoyed taking part in the tradition, exploring the castle itself, and trekking through the lush grounds.