A tour of Blarney Castle in Blarney, Ireland – Ireland adventure part IV.I

Today was a day for lots of magical adventures.

Lots of injuries as well, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re me and I go wandering through caves and dungeons, and see lots of trees that look fun to climb.

Since I did have so many magical adventures, this one day is going to be split into not just one, not just two, but three parts!

Early in the morning I took a bus (lots of buses on this trip) from Galway to Cork. I found my hostel pretty easily and checked in early, then the woman who owned the hostel told me how to get to Blarney Castle.

I took another bus from Cork to Blarney and from there walked up to Blarney Castle.

I would love to live in Blarney Castle. Or any castle, really, as long as I can put in some heaters because I despise cold.

Also, bathrooms. Bathrooms would be good.

Anyways, the first thing I came to at Blarney Castle was the dungeons, which I of course couldn’t resist walking through. The dungeons seemed to be little more than rough tunnels—the floor was uneven and the ceiling low at some points. There were times that I was bent double in order to fit through the narrow tunnels. It was pretty awesome though, and I love exploring areas like that.
I next found the Lookout Tower (left), which used to have a spiral staircase in it, as indicated by the holes in the wall. Now, however, there are no stairs to take you to the top so you have to be content with staying on the ground.

I walked around the castle until I found the main entrance, and from here you can see the famous Blarney Stone. Look at the pictures below. Do you see the opening in the middle of the wall, the one that has bars going vertically up the very top of the castle walls? The Blarney Stone is there, at the bottom of that wall, just above the horizontal bars. I also put another picture so that you can see how high up the Blarney Stone is—it’s at the very top of the castle. It might be easier to see where the Blarney Stone is in this picture. Look for the big opening of sky, and you can see a man there. The Blarney Stone is in that region, though you can’t see it from this distance because it’s on the other side of the wall and is small.

 

Okay, now let’s talk about the castle itself. The first room you enter in the castle is the basement of the castle. Do you see the vaulted ceiling? That’s not actually the ceiling of the basement; it’s the ceiling of the Great Hall, which was just above the basement. The floor/ceiling between the two levels no longer exists, but you can tell it did because around the room are stones that stick out of the walls. These stones are called corbels, and they were used to hold the ceiling/floor.

Next you go up some stairs and then enter the Earl’s Bedchamber. Nowadays it looks pretty sparse, but in the past the walls would have been hung with tapestries, the floor would have been tiled, and the room would have contained a four-poster bed.

The next room I came to was the garderobe, or, in English, a medieval toilet. I showed you one of these in Cardiff Castle—it’s literally just a hole in the floor that opens onto the grass below. I saw quite a few of these while in Blarney Castle, as opposed to just the one I found in Cardiff Castle’s Keep.

Up the spiral staircase, and you next come to the young ladies room and the priest’s room. The young ladies’ room is on the bottom, and the priest’s room would have been above, though like the basement and Great Hall, the floor/ceiling no longer exists today.

From this room you can follow a small hallway to the family room. As the centuries passed, large, glazed windows were added to this room to bring some light into the dark castle, and you can see the remains of a huge fireplace on one side of the room. There used to be stucco decoration on the walls of the room, which you can occasionally see in some places around the room today.

Again up the spiral staircase, and next you reach the kitchen. It wasn’t originally built as a kitchen, and was probably used as a bedchamber instead.

The next part of the castle is the top, the battlement walk. Getting to the top of the castle is actually quite horrifying, since the only way up to the top is by way of a horrifyingly narrow and steep spiral staircase. I’m not claustrophobic or particularly frightened of staircases, but I couldn’t get out of that staircase fast enough. I also hung onto the rope railing for dear life and put my camera away, in case I took a tumble down the stairs.

Luckily, I managed to make it to the top of the castle alive. The views from the top were outstanding, so I just stood at the top and looked out over the countryside before joining the long queue for the Blarney Stone.

So what’s the big deal with the Blarney Stone, anyways? Well, it’s said that if you kiss the stone, you’ll have the gift of gab (or eloquence) bestowed upon you. And considering that Sir Winston Churchill himself kissed the stone, maybe there’s something to this legend.

Kissing the stone isn’t for the faint-hearted, however. The Blarney Stone is located at the top of the castle, and it’s not in a very accessible location. The wall the stone is set in extends below the floor of the battlements, and there’s a gap between this wall and the battlement floor.

Since I think this is hard to picture without actually seeing it in person, I drew a picture for you.

As you can see, you can’t just walk up to the stone and kiss it. In order to reach the stone, you need to lay down on the battlements, grab onto the metal rails attached to the wall, and then lean over backwards and bend down to reach the stone.

Did I mention that below you is a drop that goes straight down to the ground? And this is at the top of the castle, keep in mind.

Nowadays kissing the Blarney Stone is quite safe, since they’ve installed metal railings under this drop. If you fall, you won’t go far, since the railings will catch you. There is also a man who sits near the stone and hangs on to you while you lean backwards. He won’t let you go anywhere.

However, in the past, kissing the Blarney Stone was actually a dangerous feat, since the metal railings weren’t there in the past. If you fell, you were going all the way to the ground.

Yay for modern safety measures!

Even though kissing the Blarney Stone is quite safe, it’s still a little frightening. For one thing, you’re quite high up. Another thing that’s a little scary is just how much of your body you have to move off the battlements and into this open space. For me to reach the stone, I had to move my entire torso off the battlements and into the air.

Comforting.

In the next part, I kiss the Blarney Stone, or at least attempt to.

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