Let’s talk about Blarney Castle. The full name of the property is “Blarney Castle and Gardens,” and with quite a good reason. The gardens of Blarney are, perhaps, more charming than the castle, itself. But more to that in a second.
In my opinion, Blarney Castle is the most famous castle in Ireland. And it was absolutely the most magical place I have visited thus far in my travels. Blarney transported me back hundreds of years ago to the 1500s, when the castle was flourishing. Entering the lands felt like wandering into a portal back in time.
As we began our walk into the grounds of Blarney, we could see the castle off in the distance.
We approached the castle while following a path through a few trees, fields, and gardens. As we approached, the main castle keep and tower were standing strongly above us. What made Blarney Castle so special was, despite its age, the entire structure was, more-or-less, intact. The main floors/ceilings of the great hall had long since been gone, but the small passages and rooms to the sides of the main hall (such as the kitchen, battle areas, and more) were still completely together.
We traveled through the kitchen, the little lady’s room, the banquet hall, the family room, and even passed the murder hole. (We got a good laugh at a father trying to explain to his son what the murder hole was for. If you don’t know, it’s where they would dump hot oil onto intruders from above if they made it passed the front door). As we made our way around, we could see fireplaces up above us on the walls where a floor once stood that no longer existed.
As we headed around and up the twisting staircase for what seemed like years, we found ourselves on a path to the top of the fortress to find the Blarney Stone. Once we reached the very top of the building, there was a walkway around the perimeter. At the center of the far wall was the Blarney Stone. It’s said that you will be blessed with the gift of gabb if you kiss the stone. To kiss the stone, you lay on the ground and lean back (much farther than you think you need to) upside-down while holding onto a rail. There was a man positioned there to help, as people used to kill themselves trying to kiss this infamous stone. Once we kissed the stone, we made our way down to the grounds.
The grounds at Blarney were just as magical as the castle, itself, if not more-so. As we walked out of the castle, the poison garden greeted us and showed us the poisoned plants of the area. We heard that it was used to teach the inhabitants of the castle what to and what not to touch around the area.
From there, a path through the woods was laid out before us. First, we followed the trees to a pond that had a beautiful waterfall cascading before us. This was the water gardens. Heading around the land back on top of the waterfall, we followed the path to the Witch’s stone and the Wishing Steps. The Witch’s cave told a story where a witch was imprisoned in a stone (which looks like a witch, so it’s easy to see how the story came to be). Legend has it that she is trapped in the stone but is free at night to wander, where she comes out and moves into a nearby cave (built under a tree and complete with an unexplained ancient chimney supposedly built by druids) to conduct her magic.
The cave was positioned beautifully in the roots of his tree, and was cozy enough for one person to live. At the foot of all of this, the Wishing Steps stood firmly built. Rumor has it, if you closed your eyes and focused on a wish while descending the stairs, if you made it all the way down the steps with your eyes closed, the wish would come true. From there, we followed the wooden paths and found Druid Stones positioned in a perfect circle on the grounds. Then, we explored the dungeons of the castle. The dungeons were tortuously small. To proceed to the back of the dungeons, you had to crawl on your hands and knees through darkness. It let out into a tiny back area with a very dark energy.
Finally, we proceeded back towards the entrance of the land. For those wishing to visit Blarney, maps are offered online. The property is extremely large but well worth a full-day journey if you have that much time to offer it. There’s even a café and coffee shop attached to the property. It is well worth the adventure if you are willing to answer that call.