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Day 6: Kissing the Blarney Stone

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Austin kissing the Blarney Stone

Our refuge in Cork was mostly one for rest. We spent a lot of time sleeping here! Our hosts started their work week again and we were free to explore what we wanted to. Austin and I slept in until about 9:30 and then decided to head out of the city and visit the Blarney Castle. Through the narrow roads we drove again, a bit north of Cork, only about a 20 minute drive. Our GPS wanted us to take the back way, but we quickly figured out to just follow the signs. Later we found out that the road the GPS was trying to take us on was someone's private driveway, so out in the boonies that there was a thick strip of grass growing down the center of it!

Blarney Castle and Gardens

We're so glad we arrived early because though it wasn't too busy at 10 am on a Monday, it would soon be! We walked up to the admission's booth and were surprised by how much one ticket was... 18 Euro!! You can't come to Ireland and NOT kiss the Blarney Stone though! We paid the price and headed straight through the eloquent gardens to the line to kiss the stone. We noticed SO many Americans here, way more than anywhere else we visited. It was kind of like touring a place in America with all the American vibes around! We were fortunate enough to climb most of the three stories of narrow spiral staircase to reach the top. A dozen people waited in front of us along the top of the castle to kiss the stone. A couple from the UK stood behind us, the wife expressing her worries and concerns about going upside-down a hole in the castle floor, hanging onto two bars while kissing a stone a foot down. It was pretty nerving, I'll give her that, but definitely worth it since we came almost 5,000 miles to be here! It was fun looking over the edge of the castle wall, little people moving around the gardens below.

So, what is the Blarney Stone and why do people kiss it? The signs around suggested many folk tales and possibilities about where this act came from, and I'll share some of the signs I saw while I was there. Why do people kiss it? Why, it gives you the gift of eloquence. The gift of the gab. Being able to speak with charisma and ease. Others say it can bring you abundance. The lady from the UK was chatting to me about this, and said, "God knows I don't need the gift of the gab, I've already got it!" We laughed. I could definitely use this gift, so hopefully it worked for me!

Before long, we made it to the front of the line. The experience was pretty short! You lay down on your back, your head towards the castle wall - put your hands above your head and grab the two bars. A man holds your feet as you slide your body down the narrow rectangular hole in the floor and stop about a foot down, kiss the stone in front of you, and then hoist yourself back up. Another man takes your picture (a common American thing... haha!) and then you're on your way. Both of us went through in under a minute and then we went back down a different set of spiral stairs and explored the rest of the castle.

I could really feel what it was like living in this castle, as there were lots of signs around explaining who the castle belonged to, what it was used for, and the history behind it. When you visit ruins like this, it's easy to forget that how they look today is NOT how they looked in the past! Believe it or not, the walls were plastered and had delicate designs carved into them, as well as drapery covering the windows. Remember my post about Kilkenny Castle? Imagine something similar to that. Austin and I sat in the dining area contemplating what it would be like to live in this castle, during that time in history. I looked out the window like a maiden might, wondering what is out there in the world besides this little piece of land. Surely, people didn't travel far and often like we do today!

After the castle, we decided to walk through the many gardens on the property. The castle was definitely awesome, but the gardens were the high light of this trip. The first garden we visited was called the poison garden. Not to be feared though. Every plant in this garden was poisonous to humans, whether ingested or touched. Poison ivy had its own cage, just so people wouldn't touch it and get a rash! Other plants in this garden were lupines, lilies, tobacco, pitcher plants, and even cannabis sativa which was in a cage as well. Both of us laughed, because it was obviously not poisonous. It was pretty comical to see a weed plant growing in the middle of a popular tourist attraction!

We followed the map to the Blarney House, a mansion on the other side of the property. We didn't tour though, because it was an additional cost, and we were having such a great time touring the gardens. Trees hundreds of years old towered above us. One of them named Spanish chestnut had a trunk that looked bulbous and mystical, like a witch put her mark on them.

Austin connecting with an ancient tree

The Blarney House

"Let's go this way, it looks beautiful!" I skipped along the gravel road and Austin followed.

We ended up in a garden amongst a long line of pergolas over a stone path. So many flowers and bees exchanged energy as we walked through. Geraniums seemed to be the flower theme of the day, as there were so many of them in the wild and in all of the gardens. Spherical alliums shot out of the mess of geraniums, roses, lilies and petunias, beating to the sound of bees. At the end of the path was the brightest red bench, like the color of cayenne peppers, designs floral and intricate like calligraphy on ancient paper.

On the little map the admission person gave us, we noticed a lake on the backside of the property. Remember that road I told you about earlier? It actually came out at the back of this lake! After walking through the aromatic arbors, we made our way to the lake, seemingly deserted besides for the few locals walking around. In the forest we saw trees as far as the eye could see, and the ground was covered with moss and ferns, and let's not forget about the herb Robert, which we nibbled on during our walk. The sky quickly turned many shades of grey and we could feel the humidity picking up.

As we kept on walking, we could see glimpses of the lake through the trees. And then a freshly laid mulch path led us to a water house, the smell of crisp pine surrounding us in a blanket of nature. The view of the lake was incredible here. Swans drifted across the glassy water and yellow lilies perched upon their pads. Austin and I shared a kiss or two in this room of tranquility, adding to the romance of this honeymoon we were on. Hand in hand, we continued our walk around the lake, met some donkeys, and then found ourselves in an enchanted forest filled with delicate ferns and a trickling waterfall.