One of the reasons why Ireland is so wonderful is that it is jam packed with so many different cultural and historical sites. Since it’s such a small country, no matter where you are living, there will always be somewhere nearby to visit on a free weekend. Recently, a few of my ISA buddies and I hopped on a bus to Cork to visit the famous Blarney Castle, located in the town of Blarney just a short bus ride outside of the city. Once there, I realized there was a whole lot more to Blarney Castle than the supposed magic stone!
1. It’s not the original Blarney Castle
The castle that can be explored today is actually the third building to stand on that site. The first building, made out of wood, was built all the way back in the 12th century. The castle that remains today was built in 1446.
2. There’s danger lurking about the grounds
The stunning grounds spread over 60 acres and contain numerous gardens, the most unusual of which being the poison garden. The skull and crossbones warning and giant cages surrounding some of the plants let you know that this isn’t your normal garden. Fans of Harry Potter can see the real mandrake plant that inspired the magical one in the books and movies.
3. The castle isn’t the only stunning building you’ll find
As we wandered the grounds, my friends and I were amazed to find a massive mansion hidden among the many old trees. The castle website describes Blarney House as a Scottish baronial style castle that is, apparently, still home to the descendants of those who commissioned it!
4. Kissing the stone required some serious back bending
If the tiny, winding stone staircase to the top of the castle isn’t enough to put you off kissing the stone, perhaps the acrobatics required to reach it will be. The Blarney Stone is set into a part of the wall so that, in order to kiss it, you must lay on your back, lean your head over the edge, and reach pretty far down before it’s at lip level. Even though there are bars below you to prevent an accident, you can still see how high up you are.
5. You might run into some magical friends
The beauty of the grounds alone is enough to make you believe in fairies. But to make the grounds that much more magical, there are signs warning you not to disturb any leprechauns and a few detailing the myth of the witch who lives in the area and grants wishes to those who complete a special task.
Wandering around Blarney was the perfect way to spend a beautiful, sunny day and a wonderful first trip away from Galway. Check out http://www.blarneycastle.ie to find out more about the castle and its history.
The world awaits…discover it.