Blarney Castle and its famous stone is only around a 15 minute drive from Cork centre, a city I’ve always wanted to explore, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to go one day. There certainly seems a lot to do at the castle, making it well worth venturing outside of Cork’s confines. In fact, there are so many fantastic daytrips from Cork that I’d be inclined to get a hire car at the airport so I could journey into different parts of the region to ensure I don’t miss any of the highlights.
So, what exactly is there to do at Blarney Castle? Firstly, you can admire its majestic structure, with the attraction constructed almost 600 years ago. It looks taller than it actually is as a result of its walls being built to slope inwards. Interestingly, the angle you view it from will determine your thoughts of the former fortress. From some sides, you can tell it was built for defence, while from some angles it looks more like a fairytale castle.
I know that after taking in the impressive sight of the castle, my first port of call will be the famous Blarney Stone. I might even be tempted to wriggle underneath the railing on my back in order to kiss it, as according to legend doing so gives you the gift of eloquence.
Millions of people from all over the world have come to kiss the Blarney Stone, but thankfully the proceedings have changed over the years. While you can now hold on to railing, in the past you would have been dangled by your ankles in order to reach the slab!
It’s still not known who brought the stone to Ireland, but whatever you believe, the power of the Blarney Stone to keep people coming back can certainly not be disputed!
After my stint with the Blarney Stone, I’ll probably go for a leisurely stroll around the castle’s gardens. Well, I might not cover all of the 60 acres, but I will definitely wind my way past its waterways and avenues in order to get to the Poison Gardens.
These sound fantastic to visit, and the space boasts an array of poisonous plants, some of which are even kept in cages! Ricin, opium, mandrake and wolfsbane are just some of the dangerous species you can find here, and they come with labels to explain what they were used for in the past, and how their applications have since changed.
Finally, I’ll round off my visit to Blarney Castle with a look at Rock Close. This little nook is nestled on a terrace above a river and if you look closely enough, you will spot a passage through the rock that takes you down the Wishing Steps.
According to legend, if you manage to walk up and down these with your eyes closed and without stopping, your wish will become a reality within a year. Some say witches used to pay for their firewood by getting sellers to complete this task – I’m not sure if I have the skill or balance to successfully manage this, but I’m up for giving it a go!