The word blarney has come to mean “clever, flattering, or coaxing talk”. John O’Connor Power defines Blarney as “…flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit.” Kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab and the gift of eloquence. Writers can certainly use all these gifts.
Many legends surround the famous stone. Some claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses. Others say the Scots gave the stone, originally a portion of the historic Stone of Scone, to Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, when he sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314.
Another legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I, eager to extend the influence of her government over Ireland, sent a deputy to Cormac MacCarthy, Lord of Blarney, and demanded that Cormac take the tenure of his lands from the Crown. Cormac set out to visit the Queen and plead for his traditional right to his land, but he was not fluent of speech. Shortly after starting his journey, he saved a witch from drowning. She revealed to him that when Blarney Castle was built, one stone was put into place by a man who predicted no one would ever be able to touch it again. Cormac succeeded in kissing the Blarney Stone and was able to address the Queen with such fine words that as long as he lived he never had to renounce his right to his land.
In 1446 the Blarney stone was set into a tower of the castle and incorporated in the battlements where it can now be kissed.
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone has been performed by millions of people including literary giants. The kiss is quite a challenge. You must ascend to the castle’s peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge holding on to an iron railing then plant your kiss. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows that gift of eloquence I mentioned.
A bonus of a visit to Blarney Castle is the gardens. Of special interest to mystery authors is the Poison Garden.
Hidden behind the Castle battlements, you will find the poison garden, which you must enter at your own risk. In this garden, the plants are so dangerous and toxic that they may be kept in large cage like structures. It contains a collection of poisonous plants from all over the world including Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, Opium and Cannabis. Many of these are labeled with information about their toxicity and traditional and modern uses. It’s a murder mystery writer’s paradise. As the saying goes, “You can pick your poison.”
The Rock Close magical Gardens will also interest authors who like to write about historical traditions seasoned with a little fantasy. There’s the giant Dolmen rock and the Wishing Steps that can make your dreams come true. Venture by the sacrificial altar of the ancient Druids or stand in their ancient circle. People say they’ve seen a Witch and fairies at the bottom of the garden.
The famous Blarney Stone is located at Blarney Castle in Blarney Village which is 8 km northwest from Cork city in the South of Ireland. If you want to get right over to the castle, just fly to Ireland. Travel to Cork City. Take the 224 bus that leaves the Cork Bus Station at Parnell Place almost every hour. The journey to Blarney takes approximately 20 minutes. Blarney Castle is open everyday all year round except Christmas Eve and Day
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