My visit to Blarney Castle in Co. Cork, Ireland was the perfect taste of Ireland. That is to say, it rained steadily and without cease the entire time Elea and I were there.
Blarney Castle is a tower house, the most common form of castle in Ireland. What makes Blarney stand out is the legend of the Blarney Stone, which, when kissed, will bestow upon the kisser the “gift of gab”. It’s also known as the Stone of Eloquence, and ties in with the image of the smooth-talking Irish.
There’s a catch, of course. Did you think you could just waltz over to the castle and lay a big smackeroo on the stone? Well, I did when I was 12 and reading about it for the first time. I’m older now and I had been warned. That stunning view from the tower means hundreds of steep spiraling steps. The top of the tower is 6 stories tall, and to kiss the teeny Blarney Stone, I had to turn my back to the edge, lay on my back, lean back and grasp the metal bars, and tilt my head back overlooking a drop into empty space. I kissed the stone, and the man holding my feet reeled me back in. Naturally it was drizzling the whole time. It was really fun! It wouldn’t be nearly as cool a tradition if it was easy (boring).
The Blarney Stone isn’t the only attraction at the castle; Elea and I spent the afternoon walking around the grounds. Spring seems the perfect time to visit, as everything was blooming:
Quirky highlights of the grounds include the poison garden, which held such curiosities as hellebore, rhubarb, tea, yew, foxglove, and water hemlock, and the wingless stone griffin atop an old stone icehouse (perfect photo-op).
All in all, a lovely day in Ireland with my good friend Elea.