What trip to Ireland would be complete with kissing the Blarney Stone?
Yes, I know that it’s a very tourist-y thing to do. But seeing as I was a tourist and all, I didn’t have a problem with that1.
The story goes that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you receive the “gift of the gab”. I always thought that meant that you’d talk a lot – and anyone who has met me for more than 5 seconds knows that I don’t need any help in the regard. But the “gift of the gab” is actually about eloquence – the ability to flatter in a very convincing way. Which seems like a valuable skill to have, no?
I only just now am realizing that I forgot to include Blarney Castle in my blog posting about castles. Castle FAIL!
And lest you think that Blarney is just about the stone, may I present to you this garden with giant eyeballs in it, which we saw on our way through the grounds to get to Blarney Castle?
I’m not sure why, but I kind of love those eyeballs.
We’d been warned by our tour guide that the line up to kiss the stone gets long fast and so we went right to the castle to get in line2.
Even still, we ended up in quite a long line. And the line up for the stone, which is up on the top of the castle, runs through the narrow passageways and staircases of the castle. And it moves very, very slowly. I think you’d be in trouble if you were even a little bit claustrophobic and you were stuck in that lineup.
Notice the counterclockwise spiral staircase:
My mom and aunts at the top of the castle – waiting for our chance at the stone:
Part of what makes kissing the Blarney Stone a big deal is that you have to hang backwards over a ledge to get to it and it’s pretty high up. I took this photo to show you how high up, but it doesn’t look as high up in the photo as it felt in person! Photo fail!
Line up of people at the Blarney Stone:
And before we knew it, it was our turn to kiss the stone! Because the line gets so long, the guy who holds onto you so you don’t fall to your death3 really rushes people through. You have to lie on your back, grab the rails, and bend backwards to kiss the stone on the opposite wall.
Of our group, I was up first and no one even got a photo of me! Fortunately, Blarney Castle, like any good tourist trap, is ready for such an eventuality and takes a photo of you kissing the stone and then will sell it to you. Isn’t that nice of them? Here’s mine:
Despite warnings from my epidemiologist friends, I did not sanitize the stone before kissing it!
Once I had gone, I was quick on the draw and managed to snap photos of my mom:
Who kind of freaked out at the height, but managed to kiss the stone nonetheless!
My Aunt Eileen:
And my Aunt Lynn:
Here’s a view from the ground:
So you can see that the safety bars mean that even if you lost your grip on the handrails, and the guy lost his grip on you, and you were far enough over the edge to fall, you’d just land on the bars. No big deal.
After kissing the stone, we decided to check out the Poison Garden, which is, as you might expect, a garden full of plants that are poisonous:
Like the sign at the Cliffs of Moher, this was not a sign I was going to disobey!
One of the plants in the garden that was a surprise to me was rhubarb. Apparently while you can eat its root, eating the leaves will kill you!
We also checked out the Badgers Cave:
Here’s a picture of me in the Badgers Cave…
…shortly before my aunt informed me that there was a giant eight-legged monster in said cave, and I got the hell out of there!
Both my aunts escaped from the cave unharmed as well!
And the last notable thing from Blarney was that I got a painting! I’d seen it in the window of “Blarney Arts & Crafts” on our way to Blarney Castle, but I hadn’t stopped because we were so focused on getting to the stone so as to beat the lineup. But even though I’d only just looked at it briefly, I really liked it, and so on our way back to the tour bus I suggested we stop by the store so I could check it out in more detail. And then I decided I really did love it and after hemming and hawing about how I was going to get it back to Vancouver, my mom said, “Oh, just get it and we’ll figure it out later!” And so I did! (Or should I so, so my Aunt Eileen did, because she insisted on buying it for me. I’m very spoiled!).
Here’s a photo of me and the artist – although I didn’t catch his name and discovered when I got home that there’s no signature on the painting, so I have no idea who he is! [Update: I followed the Blarney Arts & Crafts Facebook page and, lo and behold, I saw an announcement there that they’d updated their webpage… and when I checked it out, the artist’s name was there where it wasn’t there before – Arthur Cansdale!]
As it turned out, this painting was just a wee bit too big to fit in my suitcase and I contemplated taking it as carry-on on the plane, but in the end my mom convinced me that I should just but a new suitcase, since mine was 1,000 years old and had a big rip in it anyway. So now I have an awesome new painting AND an awesome purple suitcase. Win-win!
- See also: this photo. [↩]
- We actually talked to someone who had been there the previous day, but the line up was so long they couldn’t get to the stone, so they came back on this day first thing in the morning to make sure they got their chance. [↩]
- In truth you can’t fall to your death because they have installed safety bars beneath where you hang over the edge. Probably because so many people fell to their deaths. [↩]