Have you been thinking about a trip to Ireland? When you google “things to see in Ireland” does kissing the Blarney Stone come up? Yeah, it’s weird. I agree. When I told my grandmother that I was going to Ireland she told me to kiss the Blarney stone since she hadn’t and it’s something she always wanted to do. I said sure of course and then went to google to figure out what in the world I just agreed to do. (She was the type of Grandma you never said no to.) But what could happen when you kiss the Blarney Stone? Apparently, you can get the gift of eloquence! It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Ireland.
While I was a bit skeptical of this legend, I made a promise, and it’s one of my favorite memories from Ireland. So here is everything you need to know about kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland.
Covid-disclaimer: Kissing the Blarney Stone has been on and off available for visitors. It is disinfected between each kiss (and has been for years) Please check their website for the most up-to-date information.
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The Blarney Stone, also referred to as the Stone of Eloquence, has been kissed for over 200 years! Legend has it that after you kiss it, you are bestowed with the gift of gab. How in the world did that become legend?!?!
There are a few different origin stories:
1. Cormac Laidir McCarthy (who built the castle) was involved in a lawsuit in the 15th century and appealed to the goddess Cliodhna (goddess of love and beauty and the patron of County Cork). She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, which he did, and then he pleaded his case with eloquence and won. Then he added that charm to the legend of the castle.
2. Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.
3. Some say it was the deathbed pillow of St. Columba on the island of Iona. Then it was removed to mainland Scotland, where it helped with royal succession and was nicknamed the Stone of Destiny. When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, helped Robert the Bruce defeat the English by sending a few thousand men, a portion of the stone was returned to Ireland as a sign of gratitude.
No matter the origin of the Blarney Stone, the powers have gone unquestioned for centuries.
What does the Blarney Stone look like?
Is kissing the Blarney Stone worth it?
That depends on you. If you like a silly experience based on Irish history and tradition – then absolutely! It’s a fun story to tell and an iconic Irish experience. However, if you’re not going to enjoy the experience of hanging upside down to kiss a rock – then skip it. I’m also a sucker for a certificate (I have no idea why or when this started, but I do). My certificate includes proof of kissing and a nice close-up of me kissing the Blarney Stone.
Fun Fact: Visitors used to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements to kiss the stone. Luckily, today we’re a bit safer!
The Blarney Stone is a block of limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney (try saying that 5 times fast) about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Cork.
According to Irish Politician John O’Connor Power, “Blarney is more than flattery. It’s flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit.” So in order to get this “gift of gab” you have to kiss a rock? Yes.
First step is to get to the castle. It’s easy to get to from Cork. If you’re driving, you can park in the castle for a fee, or park in Blarney City for free. If you’re taking a trip from Dublin, then I can’t recommend Viator enough. There are tours are always guided by a local – giving you an inside scoop on the location. Either way, purchasing your admission ahead of time will save you money.
How much does it cost to visit Blarney Castle?
For 2021, adult admission is 18 euros. Students and Seniors are 14 euros, Children 8-16 are 8 euros, Children under 8 are free. A family including 2 adults and 2 children is 45 Euro.
What can you do at Blarney Castle?
Blarney Castle is more of a fortress than a picturesque castle. Upon entrance, you’re free to explore it on your own – including the caves below it – if you’re not claustrophobic. Wear sturdy shoes and walk carefully – it’s an old castle and the rocks can get slippery even when they are not wet.
Make your trip to Ireland complete by visiting Dublin as well.
The castle you see today is actually the third castle in this location, built in 1446. The first castle was made of wood (10th century) and the second (1210) was built of stone. The castle was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces under Lord Broghill, but after the Restoration of the English monarchy, the castle was restored to Donough MacCarthy. The castle and grounds changed hands numerous times. In 1874, the Jefferyes family built a baronial mansion, now called the Blarney House, which overlooks the lake.
Travel Tip: If you arrive mid-morning on the tour, then take to the grounds first – they’re worth exploring. Many people will head to the stone first and they’ll be a line.
Once you’re at the castle, you’ll realize you still have to find the Blarney Stone. It’s not convenient – it’s up a winding staircase in a narrow tunnel. I originally thought I would simply hold an oversized rock and give it a kiss, and I was very, very wrong. Then, depending on the line, you wait on top of the castle. The views of rolling hills and the Irish countryside are beautiful so take a few minutes to take it in.
I mentioned that the stone was not convenient right? Okay, just making sure. Now comes the really inconvenient part – kissing it. There is an assistant there to help make sure you don’t hit your head on the rock. But you sit down with your back to the wall, then shimmy closer to the wall, and finally lean back. Give the rock a big ol’ smooch!
Not my most flattering angle – but it’s a close-up of me giving it a smooch!
You can have someone take pictures, but there is an official photographer getting a better angle. I splurged and bought my photo (and certificate). I wanted to show that I officially have the gift of gab and will never be lost for words again.
Travel Tip: If you want, the assistant will wipe it with a disinfectant before you. He automatically did this for us, but if he doesn’t you can ask. 200 years of kisses is a LOT of germs.
You can explore the grounds more or head to the gift shop for plenty of souvenirs and mementos exclusive to Blarney. This is also where you can purchase your professional photo and certificate!
Tours and excursions that include the Blarney Stone:
There are a number of tours that visit Blarney Castle and the stone. Some of them are day trips from Dublin, like this one. Others include seeing Cork as well as Blarney! If you’re based in Dublin and want to see both the Cliffs of Moher and the Blarney Stone, you can do this 2-day tour from Dublin! If you’re self-driving and would like an easier way to see the area – check out this 4 Day tour from Galway to Kerry, bringing you the best of southwestern Ireland.