Legend of the Blarney Stone

Five miles north west of the small city of Cork is the village of Blarney -
its name being derived from the Irish An blarna meaning 'the plain'.
Near the village, standing almost 90 feet in height,
is the solidly built castle of Blarney. The present castle,
the third built at the site, was erected in 1446 by Cormac MacCarthy. 

Built on a rock, above several caves, the tower originally had three stories. On the top stories, just below the battlements on the parapet, is the world famous Blarney Stone, said to give the gift of eloquence to all who kiss it. Kissing the stone is quite a physical feat. In the old days people who kissed the Blarney Stone were hung by their heels over the edge of the parapet.

 One day a pilgrim broke from the grasp of his friends and went hurtling downward to certain death. Since that time the stone has been kissed by another method. You sit with your back to the stone and a local guide or friend sits upon your legs or firmly holds your feet. Next you lean far back and downward into the abyss and, grasping the iron rails, lower yourself until your head is even with the stone to be kissed.

Just how long this custom has been practiced or how it originated is not known. One local legend claims that an old women, saved from drowning by a king of Munster, rewarded him with a spell, that if he would kiss a stone on the castle's top, he would gain a speech that would win all to him. It is known however, when and how the word Blarney entered the English language and the dictionary.

 During the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, the ruler of the castle, was required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. He said he would be delighted to do so, but something always happened at the last moment to prevent his surrender. His excuses became so frequent and indeed so plausible that the official who had been demanding the castle in the name of the Queen became a joke at the Court. Once, when the eloquent excuses of McCarthy were repeated to the Queen, she said "Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!"

The term Blarney has thus come to mean 'the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without giving offense'.



Wearin O'the Green


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