Friday, October 16, 2009

Blarney Castle

“Yes...they’re always after me lucky charms.” We have all been exposed to some form of Irish culture. Whether it be leprechauns’ pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day (for committing the ultimate sin), or simply drinking too much beer. But I’m betting most of you have never heard of one of their most prestigious possessions. An item that when you are in its presence you are granted ultimate luck. Interested? Then you may have to plan a visit to Blarney Castle.

Rebuilt three times, the castle was originally constructed around 1210 A.D. It was later destroyed in 1446 but soon rebuilt only to be seized during the Irish Confederate Wars in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces. After the second restoration, the castle was endowed to Donough MacCarty who was named the 1st Earl of Clanarcarty.

Unfortunately (again), during the Williamite War in the 1690s, the castle was captured and sold a number of times before falling into the ownership of a Sir James St. John Jefferyes. Yet in an unexpected bout of bad luck, his family built a mansion overlooking the nearby lake that was soon destroyed by another fire.

The majority of the castle is no longer safe to venture into, but some rooms remain accessible for touring. At the top of the castle lies my true point of interest, the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone.

Stone of Scone (replica)

Built into the castle’s battlements, the Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone; a rock that goes by other names depending on its location of origin. These include: feldspathic sandstone, limestone, dolerite, and basalt. Legend states that the stone was presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. There are many theories to the origin of the stone:

• Was part of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem brought to Ireland during the Crusades.

• Half of the original Stone of Scone (Stone of Destiny or Coronation Stone), a 336 pound block of red sandstone used in the coronation of Scottish and English monarchs in Scone Abbey, Scotland.

• Was the pillow Jacob used; brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.

To acquire the stone’s magical benefits, one must kiss it ever so gently; following the “strict ritual” that has been completed by millions. The kisser must ascend to the castle’s peak then lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge with some assistance.

The castle is also surrounded by an extensive framework of gardens. Various attractions on the grounds include several natural rock formations such as Druid’s Circle, Witch’s Cave, and the Wishing Steps. Also, the Blarney House (the reconstructed Jefferyes’ mansion) became open to the public after its restoration in 1874.

Wishing Steps

For more information about the castle, visit their website at

Did you know?- “blarney” has come to mean clever, flattering, or coaxing talk.

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