Full of Blarney!

25 Nov

Before beginning my semester in Ireland, I made a list of things I want to do while I’m here. One of these things was kissing the Blarney Stone. You can’t go to Ireland for four months and not kiss the Blarney Stone. I didn’t know why it was such a popular attraction, I didn’t know why it was such an Irish thing to do, nor did I know its significance. Basically, I knew nothing about the Blarney Stone, except that kissing it was a thing. For the longest time I believed that kissing the stone would give you “the luck of the Irish”. I also thought that it must be some big rock next to Blarney Castle that you walk up to and plant one on. I was wrong on all accounts.

The Blarney Stone is actually part of the battlements (protective barriers at the top of a castle) of the Blarney Castle. About five hundred years ago, Robert the Bruce gave the stone to Cormac McCarthy – who built the castle – as a gratitude gift for sending troops to help him in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The stone was then incorporated into the castle’s battlements. It is said that if you kiss the stone, you will get “the gift of the gab”, or eloquence. It is unknown where this custom came from, but the word ‘blarney’ means to “placate with soft talk” or “deceive without offending”. This correlates to the fact that when the Lord President of Munster in England was sent by Queen Elizabeth to formally take charge of the castle, McCarthy delayed handing the castle over by suggesting they have banquets and chats to discuss “royal matters”. In reality, McCarthy was just stalling.

As far as being able to kiss the stone goes, you do not simply walk up to the stone and kiss it. You have to lay belly-up on the floor at the very top of the castle, grab hold of two metal rods attached to the battlement wall behind you, and lower yourself down in the space between the battlement and the castle floor while an old man holds you steady so you don’t plummet to the ground. So, while kissing the Blarney Stone, I simultaneously watched my life flash before my eyes. However, it was worth it because not only did it allow me to cross one more thing off of my bucket list, but I did a pretty good job on a presentation in my media class a couple of days later, for I kept the stuttering to a minimum.

– Hannah Bates


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