What to see in Ireland
Tourist attractions Blarney Castle
Situated just 8 kilometres from Cork, Blarney Castle dates back to the 15th-century. This partially ruined structure was built by the MacCarthy’s of the Muskerry dynasty and is home to the world-famous Blarney Stone, a source of much myth and legend. The structure is both enchanting and haunting with its crumbling grey stone facade. Visiting Blarney Castle is a highlight of any tour of Ireland.
Visitors are attracted from around the globe by the promise of kissing the Blarney Stone, an act full of superstition and tradition. Over the past two centuries, world-famous statesman, writers and even actors have travelled to this part of Ireland and to Blarney Castle to kiss this limestone block. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone will give the kisser the highly-prized gift of eloquence, also known as the 'gift of the gab'.
When the old King of Munster, Cormac MacCarthy supported Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English in the 14th-century, the Scots gave the King of Munster the stone to show their gratitude. The reason for the magical powers attributed to the stone is undecided but legends say it may have been the biblical ‘Stone of Ezel’ or even a stone brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. To kiss the stone, believers must lean backwards over the side of the parapet which protrudes from the castle walls, although there are railings and assistants to help visitors.
Aside from the Blarney Stone, the castle and its grounds are home to an array of weird and wonderful attractions, such as stone circle rock formations and themed landscaped gardens that showcase an array of native and non-native plant species. There is also a fascinating ‘Poison Garden’, with dangerous plants from around the world. On a misty morning, as fog shrouds the lush grounds and wraps its way around the towers and ruins, the castle seems to have a magical appearance. No wonder that a trip to Blarney Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
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