"Baloney is flattery laid on with a trowel. Blarney is flattery laid on with the lips; this is what you have to kiss the stone to get."
The famous stone is set in the top of Blarney Castle. It is said to have given the MacCarthy clan their power and legendary entertaining abilities.
Kissing the stone, touring the castle, exploring the grounds - it can be a fabulous experience. But it takes guts to have fun. Though crowded with tourists, we had a lot of fun here.
How to get there
From Cork city, take the N20 north to Blarney.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
Blarney Castle and Rock Close:
Monday to Saturday-
May: 9AM to 6:30PM
June, July, August: 9AM to 7PM
September: 9AM to 6:30PM
October-April: 9AM to sundown
Summer: 9:30AM to 5:30PM
Winter: 9:30AM to sundown
House, Garden, and Lake Walk:
Open summer months only, Monday to Saturday.
Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
Adults 8 euro
Senior Citizens over 60 yrs 6 euro
Students 6 euro
Children ages 8-14 yrs 2.50 euro
Family (2 adults, 2 Children) 18.50 euro
Two souvenir shops, Bureau De Change, Refreshments, Blarney Lake and wildlife, Arboretum and
Tel: (021) 438 5252
I had fun here. First of all, I can't believe they let us tour the castle. It is very authentic - meaning not restored - and I wondered about safety and insurance issues. We found many ruined castles all around Ireland, in various stages of decay. Some we could explore, some were closed up. If Blarney Castle were in the U.S., it would either be fully restored for the public, or closed up. That is what makes it such fun to wander through. The whole time I wondered if one of the spiral stairwells would collapse or something. Or a wall would crumbled from too many tourists carving their names into it.
Modern tourists don't really know how to appreciate this. They need a map and a guide to tell them where to take the first step. We found a pitch, dark passageway under the castle and began to exploring it. It was completely thrilling - wet, narrow, not a speck of light, no map telling us where it led too. I think it was an escape route out of the castle -there is a whole network of underground caves built by the MacCarthy in this area. My travel companion began using his digital camera flash to help us go deeper into the passageway. It was so fun! Then, a more adventurous dad led his family in behind us, waiting to see what we would find. After we had gotten our thrill, we turned and head out. The dad asked my travel companion if any other people where ahead of us in the passageway. The truth is, we didn't know who or what was in there.
Kissing the Blarney Stone - boy, it takes guts to have fun. This is a kiss to remember for the rest of your life. Get ready to be acrobatic. You are high up in the turrets at the top of the castle. The ground is a far drop below. Lying on your back, you stretch out backwards, out over the open turrets. It is a totally unnatural position. It feels dangerous and wrong, a bit like the moment in skydiving when you have to step off the plane. But keep your wits, keep your eyes on the spot -- the stone it is cold and wet on the lips. "It's like being baptized," my travel companion said afterward.
Rock Close is gorgeous, with many other fun things to do. At the Wishing Steps, walk up and down the steps backwards, with your eyes closed, focusing your mind only on your wish, and it will be granted. This is almost impossible to do, especially with other people around, impatient to race up the stairs. The Witch's Kitchen is a cave-like kitchen inside a rock. An ancient tree's root structure is matted over the top of the rock face - it is an old place. The perfect setting for a witch to cast spells and maidens to comb their hair. The grounds are a place of magic and mystery, with a Fairy Glade, Druid caves, and Dolmen stones.
Unfortunately, the house was closed and will reopen next summer.
I highly recommend Blarney Castle.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007