Another Irish tourist attraction, Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone, has had to curtail its activities due to coronavirus concerns.
For the first time in history, there is a ban in place on kissing the Blarney Stone in County Cork amid coronavirus concerns. The decision was announced on the attraction’s social media on Friday.
As one of Ireland’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions, the Blarney Stone is known around the world for giving those who kiss it “the gift of the gab.”
The ban is among one of the many disruptions that have been implemented because of the coronavirus.
Safety of its visitors is paramount
The decision on banning the kissing of the Blarney Stone was announced in a statement issued by Blarney Castle management on Friday afternoon.
“After discussions this morning, the decision was made to suspend the world-famous practice of getting the Gift of Eloquence to support the introduction of new measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland.”
“Blarney Castle and its world-famous gardens will remain open, and all necessary steps will be taken to give all our visitors the safest experience possible,” the statement continued.
“This is a necessary step in the current climate, and for the first time in its history, no one will be kissing the Blarney Stone. We will keep the castle and gardens open for anyone who may want to get some fresh air and experience all the beautiful walks we have available throughout the estate,” said Sir Charles St. John Colthurst, owner of Blarney Castle.
The history behind the kissing of the Blarney Stone
For over 200 years, people from all over the world have flocked in their millions to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone.
Many myths and legends surround the stone, however, what is known is that in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I asked the Lord of Blarney to give his land over to England. The Lord replied to her many requests, but never gave in to them.
Eventually, the Queen grew sick of his responses and said, “He’s just giving me a lot more blarney!” It is from this that the idea of the gift of the gab appeared in Blarney.
In the past, visitors were held by the ankles and lowered head first over the castle’s battlements. However, in recent years a railing was installed so that one could hold onto the railings while leaning back to give the stone a kiss.
Precautions that were taken before coronavirus
As Cork’s most popular tourist attraction, with over 40,000 visitors ever year, it is no wonder that even before the coronavirus pandemic, they implemented spraying the stone with antiseptic between kisses.
The ongoing situation in Ireland
With cases of the virus rising across the globe, the ban on the kissing of the Blarney Stone follows the closure of all schools, colleges, crèches, and St. Patrick’s Day parades in the Republic of Ireland. Indoor gatherings of over 100 people and outdoor gatherings of over 500 have been cancelled, along with the closure of pubs.
Currently, there have been 169 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland and 45 in Northern Ireland, making a total of 214 on the island of Ireland.