You've probably heard people talk about kissing the Blarney Stone, but you may be wondering what that means exactly?
One of the first things people would say to me when they learned I was vacationing in Ireland was that I had to kiss the Blarney Stone. Sure, I'd heard of it—who hasn't—but I always just thought it was anecdotal. I didn't realize it was a real thing. Oh, but it is real...very real.
Blarney Castle is located just a short drive from Cork, Ireland, and it's one of the most visited attractions in the entire nation. If you're taking a tour of the area, it will likely be one of your stops. Built in the 1400s, the picturesque castle sits amid lush gardens in a beautiful landscape. In order to reach the infamous Blarney Stone, you'll need to climb to the top.
Pro tip: Be sure to wear sturdy shoes. The castle is in ill repair in some parts, and it's a steep climb.
There are many theories about where the stone came from and how it earned its reputation, but no one is certain. Many people believe it is tied to Bible stories. Some say it is the stone that produced water when Moses struck it with his staff during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Others believe it is the Stone of Ezel that David hid behind when fleeing Saul. Another story suggests that the man who built the castle was involved in a lawsuit. He asked the gods for help, and they told him to kiss the stone. When he awoke the next morning, he was able to speak with such eloquence that he easily won his trial. He then moved the rock to the parapet of the castle.
According to legend, anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will receive the gift of the gab. I like to think I was bestowed this gift at birth, but I figured no harm could come from gaining more eloquence. At least, I felt that way until I realized the acrobatic feat I needed to pull off in order to get to the stone.
If you're like me, when you envision yourself kissing the Blarney Stone, you imagine yourself inside a museum-type atmosphere standing akin to a pedestal holding a large rock. You simply lean in and press your lips to the stone, smiling and laughing for the camera. But that's not even remotely what the experience is like. You see, the stone is built into the outside wall of the tower, and you need to hang upside down to reach it. Yes...you read that right...upside down. But what's more is that you're dangling several stories above the ground while you do it. Let me explain.
The Blarney Stone is located outdoors at the top of the castle. If it's cold outside, be sure to wear a warm coat or long underwear—you will be exposed to the elements. You will see a person—likely a man—sitting on one side of the castle. That's who you need to see about kissing the stone. When you get closer, you'll see a large hole in the floor of the castle where the man is sitting. You'll also notice handrails screwed to the wall just above the hole. This is when you'll start to realize how this whole kissing the Blarney Stone thing works and think about backing out—don't. It's not nearly as scary as it seems.
Next, you'll get down on the ground and lay on your back with your head facing the wall. There will be about a foot between your head and the wall—otherwise known as the gaping hole in the ground. You'll reach your arms over the hole to the wall behind you and grab the rails with your hands. Your head and back will still be firmly on solid ground at this point, but you'll still be quite a distance from the Blarney Stone itself.
In order to actually kiss it, you need to scooch closer to the wall. And the only way to do that is to cross the hole. But don't worry. The man sitting in the hole will support your back and hold you steady to ensure you don't tumble through the hole to the ground below. You'll lean your head back, pucker up, and before you know it, you'll be brushing your lips against a cold rock. And don't worry, someone will document your big moment so you can buy the picture on your way out.
Is it worth it? Sure, why not? I was sweating bullets despite the cold chill in the air, but it's a unique experience and something I would only have the courage to do on vacation. And don't worry, millions of people do it each year without a single one of them plummeting to the ground below. You'll be just fine.
Have you kissed the Blarney Stone? What was your experience like? Were you surprised or scared? Share your thoughts with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.