Millions have traveled to Blarney Castle in Ireland to kiss the stone. As legend has it, you will be granted the gift of eloquence and Irish charm or "the gift of gab", by doing so. It's worth a try. Blarney is known the world over; dignitaries, celebrities and the rest of us continue to make Blarney a "must see" on a tour to Ireland.
The first time I visited Blarney Castle in Ireland, I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone. My friend, Mary, and I climbed the narrow, winding stairs to the top of the castle tower. It was rainy and a little chilly. The thought of lying down and bending over backwards to kiss an old piece of rock didn't seem that appealing! I phoned home that evening and my young son said "Did you kiss the Blarney Stone?" I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn't and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. "You didn't?" So, the next day I got up early, ran to the top and kissed the stone. I reported to my son that evening and all was well.
Blarney Castle in Ireland was built in 1446 by Cormac MacCarthaigh (MacCarthy), one of Ireland's greatest Chieftans. The castle resisted attack after attack throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, only to be almost totally destroyed by the army of King William III in 1690. Only the massive square tower, where the Blarney Stone is, remains.
Most agree that the legend of the Blarney Stone began with the Lord of Blarney, a MacCarthy, who refused to pledge allegience to Queen Elizabeth. In order to keep his land, he had to keep talking and evading the question of whether he was devoted to the Queen. He gained the reputation of fair words and soft speech. In the end, the frustrated queen blurted out, "This is all Blarney; what he says, he never means!"
So, to gain the charm, you climb to the top of the tower, lie down and bend backwards- with the help of an Irishman- and kiss the stone. You can also have your photo taken for proof.
I took my children to Blarney to have their own experience with the stone.
While you are visiting Blarney Castle in Ireland, you will want to stop in at the adjacent Blarney Castle House. It is a renovated 19th century Scottish baronial mansion with beautiful paintings and gardens.
In Blarney town, you will also want to see the huge selection of Irish goods and souvenirs for sale at the Blarney Woollen Mills. One year I did all my Christmas shopping there. They will even ship items home for you to save on extra luggage costs.
Blarney Castle is located in the Southwest Region of Ireland 8 km northwest of Cork City. From the City Centre, you take the signs for Limerick (N20) northwest out of Cork, go 7 km, exit left where the sign says Blarney and follow the signs to the castle.
Here is a map of the Blarney Castle area: