Kissing the Blarney Stone – The Quest for the Gift of the Gab:
Like most visitors on Irish tours, we were brought to Blarney Castle to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. It is believed that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will be blessed with the ‘gift of the gab’ and it seems that over 400,000 visitors a year come to seek this gift.
It may be just a folk legend or a load of blarney, but millions of visitors have already come to Blarney Castle to kiss this stone of eloquence. Famous visitors to the Blarney Stone have included Winston Churchill who kissed the Stone in 1912 – he is said to be the greatest orator of the twentieth century! Billy Connolly was another famous visitor and we all know that Billy is blessed! Mick Jagger too has kissed the Stone.
The Stone Kissing Ritual
Kissing the Blarney Stone is no simple feat. To reach the stone one has to climb some 127 steps to the top of the castle keep. The stone is set in the wall below the castle battlement and to kiss it you have to arch over backwards on the edge of the parapet. As you ease yourself over the edge by holding on to the wrought iron rails, an attendant is there to help anchor you down (for a fee).
It’s a long drop to the ground and although there are bars to prevent stone kissers from falling through, it can be quite scary for people suffering from acrophobia or those who aren’t fit enough to arch over backwards. A number of ladies had second thoughts and pulled out of the ritual, while others came well prepared with pieces of Gladwrap, concerned about picking up more than the gift of the gab.
As you busy yourself to kiss the stone, you may not notice a photographer taking snaps of you in action. By the time you get back to the ground level, you’ll see your pictures are ready for sale.
Even if you choose not to kiss the stone, you’ll be able to see some of the castle ruins from the top and enjoy a nice view of the castle surrounds. Although we were there early, there was already a huge queue of visitors all waiting their turn to kiss the stone.
Well, I’ve got my certificate to prove that I’ve kissed the stone, but I haven’t noticed any improvement in eloquence! Oh well, it might just be a tourist gimmick, but you can’t go to Blarney Castle and not follow this long-standing tradition… at least once!
It is believed that the word ‘blarney’ was introduced into the English language by Queen Elizabeth I. It apparently came about on an occasion when she requested an oath of loyalty to retain occupancy of land from Cormac McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney. His response was subtle, but without giving in. Queen Elizabeth was believed to have said that McCarthy was giving her “a lot of blarney”.