The legendary Blarney Stone is said to have the power to bestow people with the gift of the gab – the ability to speak with wit, charm and persuasion.
The stone is built into the wall of the medieval Blarney Castle in Co Cork. The story goes that by kissing the Blarney Stone you will develop the ability to sweet talk your way into or out of any situation.
Sir Winston Churchill is the most famous world leader to kiss the stone and celebrities such as Laurel and Hardy also have a lot to thank it for.
Thousands of tourists now visit the castle each year to kiss the Blarney stone.
This is not as simple as it might sound and requires a certain amount of bravery. You have to lean backwards over the parapet from the top of the castle. There are safety precautions and the parapet is fitted with iron rails and crossbars. These safety measures weren’t always taken.
It used to be a lot scarier as the person kissing the stone would have to rely solely on someone holding onto their legs as they leant backwards over the parapet.
But don’t worry – nowadays, it’s much more controlled.
There are a number of stories telling how the stone became a source of such powers. One is that Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the man who built Blarney castle, had been taken to court. He was worried that he was going to lose his case and he prayed to the goddess, Clíodhna, who was Queen of the Banshees.
Clíodhna told him that when he left his house, he should kiss the first stone he saw on the way to court. MacCarthy followed her advice and when he pleaded his case he did so in such an articulate and persuasive way that he won his case.
His success was put down to kissing the stone and so the legend was born. Since then millions of tourists have visited Blarney Castle to see if the stone could do the same for them.
The castle’s main attraction is of course the Blarney stone but there are a number of other rooms and battlements that tourists are able to explore.
There are also extensive gardens that surround the castle. When walking through the gardens keep a look out for the sign posts leading to landmarks such as the Witch’s Cave and Druid’s Circle.
The Court is a Gothic mansion to the East of the castle. It is in ruins now but in the 18th Century when it was built it was a fabulous country residence.
In 1820 a huge fire destroyed the Court. Many people say that the fire was started on purpose in order to stop the son inheriting it.
You might also like to visit Blarney House, which is in the grounds of the castle. It is a Scottish baronial style mansion.
The story if the Blarney Stone isn’t the only legend associated with the area. Click below to find out more.