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Kissing the Blarney Stone
No trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to the infamous Blarney Stone for the age-old ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone. It was a chilly day in June of 1994 at Blarney Castle, but the lines moved quickly and we all received our dose of eloquence by kissing the Blarney Stone.
What is the Blarney Stone?
The Blarney Stone, also known as the Stone of Eloquence, is famous as a tradition for capturing the gift of gab (eloquent speaking). To reach the Blarney Stone, you must navigate about 120 steps to the top of the castle. These are tiny curving steps dating back to the original construction of the castle in the mid-1400’s.
The Blarney Stone is a specific stone in the masonry of the tower elevation. Some people don’t want to kiss the Blarney Stone, but the hike up the steps is worth the trip to view the interior construction of the castle remains. The landscape views from the top of the tower are far-reaching and include forests, rivers, and open pasture lands.
In the photos above, the Blarney Stone is not visible, but look where the tourists are watching in the photo on the right and you’ll see the opening directly above the large arch in the center of the picture.
How to Kiss the Blarney Stone
It’s awkward, but millions have completed the task during the last few hundred years, so it’s certainly achievable. There is a guide to help you in the correct position. The basic requirement is to lay on your back on the cold concrete, the scooch towards the edge of the castle wall while tilting your head backward. Pucker up and kiss the rock that is directly overhead. In a few seconds, the guide will pull you back onto your feet. Don’t worry about the photo, a quick internet search revealed that mine is fairly typical.
Other Things to Do in Blarney
Blarney Castle Gardens
While at the Blarney Castle, visit at least one of the many garden areas. These garden areas range from the rugged to the manicured. There is even a Poison Garden for those brave enough to explore the toxic plants from around the world. You’ll be on your own there; I’m not ready for that adventure!
Safe and cozy, The Bog Garden features two waterfalls. Ahhhh….
In addition to the several garden strolls, there is a walking trail for a one-hour route through the grounds. After a hike, wander over to the stable yard for cakes, fresh scones and other snacks at the cafe. They offer a selection of coffees and teas, as a place to relax and enjoy the day.
Blarney Woolen Mills
Yarn lovers, prepare yourselves! You are near the incredible Blarney Woolen Mills, offering 60,000 square fee of merchandise on three levels of shopping. Known as “the largest Irish store in the world” this family owned business is just a 4 minute drive from Blarney Castle and offers free parking. Here you’ll fine authentic Irish woven goods, crystal, china, ceramics, and the usual tourist souvenirs. Blarney Woolen Mills was built in 1823. It was originally a business for spinning and weaving wool but is now more of a heritage shop, inside the original building with period architecture preserved.
Ocean View, Ireland
The western edge of Ireland provides scenic landscape views like this one, another favorite photo. Our tour of Ireland included The Ring of Kerry. This scenic drive is, as described, a circular route that is best tackled in small bits, to really take in the rugged coastal landscapes, scenic ocean views, and villages.
This scenic stop on our trip was simply for the photography. We wandered on the hillside and relaxed during our break from the bus tour. I’ve often commented that “there’s no green like Irish green”, which I totally believe, but this photo falls short of giving the vivid green that is always present in my memories.
The River Sneem
My visit to Ireland in 1994 was one of my early international adventures. The town of Sneem was a stop during our tour along the Ring of Kerry. This small town has a beautiful stream running through the village streets. Sneem is not a common name and the origins are unknown.
Perhaps it was originally named An tSnaidhm, which is an Irish term that translates to “The Knot” in English. The complexity of the river’s path is similar to the twists and turns of a knot (or wound cords of yarn). In this photo, the River Sneem is making way towards Kenmare Bay.
For me, much of the “gab” is in my writing. I’m still somewhat shy in large groups but will talk on and on and on and on in small groups or among friends, especially when the topic is related to crochet!
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