village is situated about eight kilometres north-west
of Cork. The main attraction is the kissing of the
Blarney Stone. Blarney Castle was built on solid limestone
way back in 1446. Situated at the top of this castle
is the fabled Blarney Stone. Kissing this stone is
reputed to give you the gift of the gab, or talk blarney
as the term goes. Queen Elizabeth I invented the term
because of Lord Blarney's ability to talk endlessly
for hours without ever actually agreeing to her demands.
Apparently his eloquent excuses for not surrendering
himself and his land to her were so frequent and actually
plausible that the queen declared his waffle a load
of Blarney. It seems ironic that a well-known Irish
expression was actually invented, not just by an Englishwoman,
but by the English Queen who wreaked havoc on the
country for years.
stone is extremely popular and is actually Ireland's third
most popular tourist attraction. Thus there was a long
queue of people waiting for their turn to smooch it. The
queue stretched from the very top of the castle, six stories
up, down a narrow spiral staircase and out the entrance.
It was going to be a long wait.
Once we reached the top we were able to watch the kissing
process. In the old days people who kissed the Blarney
Stone were hung by their heels over the edge of the parapet.
One day a pilgrim broke from the grasp of his friends
and went hurtling downward to certain death. Nowadays
bars are fitted to the inside of the parapet for the kisser
to hold on to and thus be saved from the risk of falling
down through the gap.
Each person has to lie on his or her back and bend
backward over a large gap on the inside edge of the
parapet, which represents this sheer drop to the grounds
below. However, this is obviously not considered safe
enough. To further ensure the kisser's safety an assistant
is provided. His job is to hold you by the waist as
you bend over. Interesting job! It must make an amusing
topic of conversation in the pub at night:
what did you do today?'
I spent the day holding people's waists as they bent over
backwards to kiss a stone.'
go on Seamus, now ye really ought ta stop these afternoon
not exactly the most romantic of jobs. Or is it? I suppose
it depends on whose legs he's holding. I wondered if this
one man was solely employed for this purpose, or whether
the job was rotated among the park's staff?
our turn came and each of us opted to take photos
of this momentous occasion. I took one of Heather,
then lay down myself, bent backwards, grabbed the
two bars behind me and tried not to look down. The
blood rushed to my head as I stared at the smooth
surface of the one stone set among other more rugged
stones. I guess this is the Blarney Stone then, I
thought. So what sort of kiss am I supposed to bestow
upon this magical stone in order to be blessed with
its magical powers? Do I just give it a peck, use
a bit of tongue, or go for the full-blown Frenchy?
It was a decision I would have to make very quickly,
lest my assistant got bored and loosened his grip;
or found something more interesting to look at. I
figured this job didn't do much towards improving
his attention span.
one actually knows exactly where this stone came from.
There are various legends, but no real facts. It could
have come from anywhere, and been anywhere come to think
of it. But legend has it that if you kiss this stone you
will be granted the gift of eloquence and inherit the
ability to talk Blarney. I had read an article on the
Internet stating that over the years the term Blarney
has come to mean, 'The ability to influence and coax with
fair words and soft speech without giving offence'
the interests of decorum I decided to stick to a normal
kiss, without tongue. After all, there was a crowd of
people watching. Suddenly I realised that this was possibly
not the healthiest thing I have ever done in my life:
to kiss a stone to whom I hadn't even been introduced.
And, come to think of it, to kiss a stone who has been
kissed by thousands of other people: men, women and children
alike. I would at least have preferred to get to know
the stone better, taken it out for a drink first perhaps.
But unfortunately for me there was no time allowed for
a courtship ritual, so I had to dive straight in there
and kiss this cold stone that was already dripping with
the saliva of many before me. As I sat back up and allowed
the blood to rush back to where it came from, I felt cheap,
and extremely dizzy.