On our second day in Ireland, we took a drizzly drive out to the country side to see Blarney Castle. I hadn’t packed an umbrella because it would take up space in our luggage and possibly get broken, but I made the smart investment of purchasing our first umbrella of the trip here; it was needed throughout our self-guided tour! They say you receive the gift of gab for kissing the Blarney Stone. Apparently, I have to say mine is genetic. My whole life I’ve had kissing the Blarney Stone on my bucket list, but when the time came…. I did not.
You should know that visiting Ireland in the fall time is a very good idea. Visiting a medieval castle in Ireland during the fall time is an even better idea. The ceiling was open for most of the castle and the drizzly rain came in making the precarious steps a little slick. It is hard to imagine a world without air conditioning and heating, but realizing people hauled water up several stories of dizzying stairs with sweating stone walls really brought home medieval to me.
Blarney Castle History
Blarney Castle grounds saw its first wooden structure on the grounds was built in 950 AD. In 1210 AD, the first stone structure was build on site, but then it was rebuilt by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, Lord of Muscry after it was destroyed in 1446. The lands were repeatedly confiscated by the British crown and then reinstated many times over the next few centuries. Something I didn’t actually know until I came home though is that the famous Blarney Stone itself was a battle reward. Robert the Bruce rewarded the MacCarthy family, who owned Blarney castle for centuries, with part of the Stone of Scone/ Stone of Destiny for providing 5,000 infantry men to aid Scotland. This stone was a famous stone where Kings of Scotland were crowned and it ended up becoming the Blarney Stone. You’re pretty lucky visiting Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone now though! Apparently, there were no safety precautions until the last few decades and the castle is 90 feet tall.
If you come to visit, make sure you leave time to read all of the signs in the castle as well as visit the grounds because they were really pretty interesting (and this comes from someone who usually finds somewhere to sit because my husband thoroughly reads every single detail).
The Blarney Castle Grounds
While the Blarney Stone is why most people visit Blarney Castle, I honestly thought the castle would have been worth the visit even without the Blarney Stone; this is a medieval castle we’re talking about! The castle grounds are really amazing and you could honestly spend the whole day touring them. The castle itself is pretty packed, but I don’t think people typically leave enough time for visiting the grounds (we didn’t). We’re talking fairies, kissing trees, and marijuana in a garden cage- the last one made me laugh a lot when I saw it in the medicinal poison garden. We wanted to see more things in Cork before the incoming hurricane hit the next day, but all of the time we spent was well worth it.
I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone and other reflections
When we were at the bottom of Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone was pointed out 90 feet above, I kind of whimpered.
It should be noted that the stairwells in Blarney Castle are the tightest and windiest stairs I have ever been in any castle; I honestly felt I had reached my adrenaline limit for the day already. I’m 5’3 and my small backpack rubbed up on the wall many times because there was so little of room. However, it was really rewarding because very few castles have little side rooms for you to go and tour. We often had to take off jackets and purses to squeeze through these openings, but it was super interesting to read the signs that felt like hidden gems. While claustrophobic I am not, this hasn’t been my first time on vacation when I’ve almost peed my pants because of my fear of heights; I’m also sure it won’t be my last.
We finally were at the roof of the castle and waiting in line to kiss the dang stone. I was double checking my backpack to make sure it actually was waterproof with my camera because of the light rain, it was. I was double checking to make sure my camera was ready for when Devin leaned back to kiss the stone, it was.
I nervously stood and watched people and kept moving behind them in line. The man who works at the castle grabs the people and slides them back, they then bend backwards over a whole 90 feet above the ground, and they grab metal attached to the castle wall to kiss the rock.
I handed my backpack to Devin and sat on the textured non-slick map to adjust myself. Well, they have a lot of people and there isn’t time to ease into things. Before I had a chance to look up, the man who worked there had grabbed me and was sliding me back to read the rock and my fingers were gripped in the circular holes of the mat dragging myself up. I can laugh typing this now, but I kindly said that this wasn’t for me and got up and left. I can officially say that I left my mark on the castle though because I’m pretty sure I left scratch marks and I was digging castle out of my fingernails for the rest of the day 🤣. I wiped the dirt off of my clothing from struggling against the poor guy that works there and then proceeded to ask about my inhaler because I felt completely light headed #glamorouslifemoments.
I can laugh now, but I also found this a great progress for myself too. I didn’t feel guilty one tad for deciding I didn’t want to actually kiss the stone and I didn’t regret it for the rest of the trip. Honestly, I still don’t regret it. Sometimes we have something stuck in our head how it is going to happen whether it is a good fit for us or not and we push ourselves regardless of how we feel about it. If I had initially just listened to my gut that I didn’t want to kiss the stone, I could have missed the whole fiasco and embarrassment. However, I tried and I realized I didn’t want to and I’m glad I didn’t make myself. I have joked with Devin several times that I should have named my blog the spirited pansy because of moments like this, but I’m perfectly fine with tweaking my bucket list 😉.
Ever since I heard about kissing the Blarney stone as a rite of passage, I have wanted to visit and Ireland was one of the top countries I have always wanted to visit. This trip was truly a dream come true even if I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone.
What is one of your bucket list places you’d love to visit?