Blarney Castle is famed for its Blarney Stone. It is said to bestow the gift of the gab onto anyone who kisses it. The castle’s management say the ritual of kissing the stone has been performed by millions of people around the world including movie legends. Performing the kiss is no easy feat. First you have to ascend to the castle’s peak. Second you have to lie down and lean backwards over the parapet’s edge with the help of an assistant. Whilst it is perfectly safe today this was not the case in the early years before the various guard rails where installed.
But how exactly did it get this magical reputation? Well there are actually a number of stories that try to explain the origin of the stone and its surrounding legend. One story involves the goddess Clíodhna and Cormac Laidir MacCarthy. Cormac who was the builder of the castle. Cormac was involved in a lawsuit and asked Clíodhna for her assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he saw on his way to court which he did. Cormac then managed to plead his case and was found not guilty. Cormac then declared that the stone gave him “the ability to deceive without offending” so he had it built into the wall of the castle.
Another tale says that the stone was used as a deathbed pillow for St Columba on the island of Iona. After this it was then removed to Scotland where it was deemed the Stone of Destiny. Cormac MacCarthy the King of Munster sent troops to Scotland to help Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314. To show his gratitude Robert the Bruce broke off a portion of the stone and returned it to Ireland.