“Work is the curse of the drinking classes” – Oscar Wilde.
On my adventure back to Cork in the Republic of Ireland, I stopped off in Dublin and got booked on a brilliant tour with Day Tours. ie. This was pretty inspiring as I wasn’t just returning to the place I watched Oasis rock in 1996, but I was going to finally kiss the Blarney Stone. Yes I was going to get the gift of the gab, to become eloquent. Words will reel off my tongue and I can flatter and sweet talk anyone now. That’s the deal, so the Don’t Stop Living bandwagon rolled into Barney Castle.
“All publicity is good, except an obituary notice” – Brendan Behan.
My Journey to the Blarney Castle
So I left Dublin early morning on the tour to Blarney Castle. The tour I booked also includes a few hours in Cork City and a trip to the Rock of Cashel, so I’ll report on those again when I get a chance. For now, I was inspired and off to kiss the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is situated on the top floor of Blarney Castle in County Cork, Irish Republic. So off I went. Our driver was Derek and late morning, we rolled into the village of Blarney.
“You can have it all if you like” – Stereophonics.
About the Blarney Stone
What is it that makes the Blarney Stone so special?? Why does everyone want to kiss this stone? Well the truth is it is now a touristic phenomenon and even the likes of Winston Churchill and Oliver Hardy have kissed it. By kissing the stone you are supposed to be able to “sweet talk” others, in Irish, you’ll have the “gift of the gab”, the gift of flattery and eloquent speech. It is estimated that 300,000 people per year kiss this stone. In 2016, I was one of them and the queue was big so I can well believe this figure.
The reason people kiss it is because others have done it of course and they believe it and follow the trend. The reason I kissed it, was similar, is because I am at a time in my life where it felt the right thing to do. I do believe in certain things like this, I’m a little bit superstitious and I wanted to kiss it as well as making a wish on the Wishing Steps in Blarney Gardens. Besides, I love crazy backpacking things like this so it’s definitely the sort of thing I want my readers to do!
What is the Blarney Stone?
It is merely a piece of rock at the top of a castle! It is a block of Carboniferous limestone and it is built into the Castle Walls. This is only HALF of the Blarney Stone. The other half is in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, which I also visited. According to an Irish legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with “the gift of the gab”. The stone was set into a lower part of stone in the upper tower of the castle in 1446.
Arriving at the Blarney Castle
We arrive late morning on our tour and we park in the main car park. You don’t get an actual ticket at the entrance, once you have paid entry you are issued with a map and guide for the Blarney Castle and Gardens. This acts as your ticket.
Prices vary and mine was included as part of my tour. As of June 2016, the prices were:
Adults – 13 Euros
Students/Seniors – 11 Euros
Children aged 8 – 16 – 5 Euros
Children under 8 – Free
This includes entrance to the entire castle and gardens, of which kissing the Blarney Stone is a small part.
Climbing the Blarney Castle
The queues are big, so I headed straight for Blarney Castle to join the queue and the climb. Despite what people tell you, the climb up the steps is NOT difficult. There are points where your head can bang on the stone as it is narrow, but there were hundreds of people aged 60+ climbing the day I did it and not one of them said that it was difficult.
Obviously if you have limitations with your movements, please do take care and be aware that you climb some narrow and steep stairs, but for most of us, it’s no issue. On the way up there are rooms in the Castle to check out including the Hall and the Kitchen. Use the time wisely to read your guide, that’s what I did. It took us 30 minutes to reach the top.
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The big moment arrived – and it felt like a once in a lifetime thing. It felt like I was doing this for a reason now. I did have a personal reason on the way up. There are two guides at the top to help you. One takes a photo as you kiss it, the other helps lower you down. It’s as simple as this:
– Lie on your back
– Lean your head and shoulders back
– Listen to what the guide tells you
– Kiss the Blarney Stone!
Please note you must kiss the lower stone, the one at the bottom which is more slippy. You have to stretch your head and neck further down to reach it, but of course, it’s worth it!
Once you have kissed it, they give you a piece of card so you can get a framed photo and certificate (this costs 10 Euros). For once in life, I felt like buying it, so I did, a nice souvenir to have…
Other Things to do in Blarney Other Than Lick Bits of Rock
This actually genuinely did surprise me. There are lots of others things to do in Blarney, and I don’t even mean the village – I just mean the area near the Blarney Stone itself! It’s an elaborate area with gardens, trees and flowers. There is a river, a waterfall, a lake, floral walks, as well as hotels, pubs, a chocolate factory and the largest Irish Shop in the World is also here!
The Wishing Steps
One of my other highlights was walking up and down the “Wishing Steps” and making a wish. You can either walk up and down backwards, or close your eyes. You must keep thinking of your wish all the time and within one year it should come true. I will let you know if my wish comes true.
Here are the details for organising your tour to Blarney Castle with Extreme Ireland / Irish Day Tours:
Extreme Event Ireland
Office 44, Guinness Enterprise Centre,
Day Tour Bookings:
Tel: +353 86 4113326
Hiking & International Tours:
Tel: +353 1 4100700
It was amazing, I’m now a sweet talker and smooth operator. I’ll be irresistible as a backpacker from now on!
“A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies, but a handsome fool is irresistible” – William Makepeace Thackeray.
Here are some videos from my brilliant day out when I kissed the Blarney Stone: