Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ireland Trip #53: Discovering the "Blarney" at Blarney Castle!

Blarney Castle
In this entry of our (9 day) trip to Ireland, we're taking you to the world-famous Blarney Castle, where we learned about
the castle, what "Blarney" really means, and we found out what the "Blarney" is about the attraction itself! Come along!

WHAT IS BLARNEY CASTLE? - Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin.  It dates back to 1200, and although earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy family of the "Muskerry dynasty," a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446. The castle is basically in ruins. You walk through the ruins to get to the top (and go up cramped, stone, spiral staircases - it must've been tough to be a guard then and run down those stairs with a sword). - **In fact, most of the floors used to be made of wood, and rotted away, allowing you to see all of the floors from the center of the castle.
   Anyway, the entire visit to the castle is basically to direct you to the Blarney Stone.  The Blarney Stone is found among the machicolations of the castle.

the ruins of a room with a fireplace. Wood floors disintegrated
OKAY, SO WHAT IS A "MACHIOLATION"?  - Geez, there are weird words for everything. A (French, machicoulis) is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones, or other objects, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall.  In other words, it's a big hole at the top of a castle turret (high up) where hot oil and rocks can be dropped on the heads of would-be invaders.

Looking down into the former kitchen
WHAT DOES KISSING THE BLARNEY STONE MEAN? - The Blarney Stone is actually is a block of Carboniferous limestone that was built into the battlements of Blarney Castle. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery - read "bull-shitting" people). There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the Lia Fáil—a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned - but no one knows if that's true. The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.

 DISCOVERING THE BLARNEY - Okay, here's the real "blarney." We noticed that there were literally busloads of retired and elderly people who were being transported to Blarney Castle to see the famous Blarney Stone. Awesome, right? Wrong. What you don't learn until you get there, or unless you research it, is that the Blarney Stone sits at the HIGHEST POINT in the castle. To get there, you have to ascend cramped, spiral staircases and go up about 600 feet or so (It could be higher, I'm a poor judge of height because I'm afraid of heights!).
  SO, all of the elderly people who had canes, walkers and wheelchairs (and there were a good number) or had breathing, lung or heart issues (there were a good number) could NOT go up the stairs to see the Blarney stone!
That's a bunch of Blarney.  We wondered why they didn't move the damned stone to the first floor so everyone could see it and enjoy it.  (Yeah, it may have been put there before, but it can be moved - they do that with museum pieces).
Tom in a guard's bedroom


NEXT: To Kiss or not? A Local Legend about the Blarney Stone, and a Ghost 

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next