Top 10 interesting facts about Blarney Castle you probably didn’t know

From ancient myth to poisonous gardens and wishing waterfalls, here are ten interesting facts about Blarney Castle you probably didn’t know.

Blarney Castle (home to the popular Blarney Stone) is one of Ireland’s much-loved tourist attractions. So, here are ten interesting facts about Blarney Castle you probably didn’t know.

From far and wide, people come to revel in its majesty, and of course, pucker up to the world-famous stone, which is said to give people the gift of the gab (a colloquial term for eloquence).

Rounding up now, here are ten interesting Blarney Stone facts you need to know.

10. The castle in question – a brief overview

A brief overview of Blarney Castle.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

People are usually concerned about the magic stone. However, the castle itself has an interesting backstory. It was built by the powerful MacCarthy clan in 1446.

Its walls are better likened to a fortress at 18 feet thick in certain places, and today Blarney Village is one of the last remaining estate villages in Ireland.

9. The toxic gardens – do not touch, smell, or eat any plant!

One of the facts about Blarney Castle is about the toxic gardens.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

As if this magical setting couldn’t sound any more like a fairytale, there is, in fact, a Poison Garden on-site.

Visitors beware; on entry, a sign reads, ‘Do not touch, smell, or eat any plant!’ And, with over 70 toxic species, we’d recommend following this advice.

8. The Covid crisis – a first in 600 years

Covid was the first time the castle closed in over 600 years.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The Covid-19 pandemic caused havoc across the world. It also closed down tourist sites en masse.

In March 2020, for the first time in 600 years, visitors were banned from kissing the stone.

7. The first lips to touch the stone – the first kiss

One of the Blarney Stone facts is about who was first to kiss the stone.
Credit: Flickr / Brian Smith

While it is well known that many lips have locked onto this famous stone, another one of the interesting facts about Blarney Castle you probably didn’t know is that the first person ever to do so was Cormac MacCarthy, after receiving the rock as a gift from King Robert, the Bruce of Scotland.

6. The witch – a common figure of great legends

The witch is a common figure in legends of Blarney Castle.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

For those keen to understand how the stone came to possess such magic powers, read on.

It is said that a witch who lived in the nearby Druid rock garden told King MacCarthy that if he kissed the stone, it would give the gift of eloquence to anyone who kissed it forevermore.

5. The word in question – tracing the roots of ‘Blarney’

One of the facts about Blarney Castle you need to know is the meaning of the word Blarney.
Credit: Flickr / Cofrin Library

In the 1700s, the word ‘Blarney’ entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Based on the legends surrounding the stone, the word’s meaning is ‘talk that aims to charm, flatter, or persuade’. It is often considered typical of Irish people.

Some say the word came from Queen Elizabeth I, who – after failing multiple times to steal the stone for herself – labelled the stone’s powers useless and utter ‘blarney’.

4. The stone’s origins – where did the magic stone come from?

Where did the stone come from?
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

In the past, it has been said that the Blarney Stone was brought to Cork after being extracted from the site of Stonehenge.

In 2015, however, geologists confirmed that the limestone rock was not English but Irish and dated back 330 million years.

3. The unsung heroes – all there is to do in Blarney Castle

One of the facts about Blarney Castle you probably didn't know is that there are lots of hidden gems nearby.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Another interesting fact about Blarney Castle you probably didn’t know is that there is so much to see and do aside from the famous stone.

From the Bog Garden to the wish-granting waterfalls, a day spent on these majestic grounds will promise more than just the gift of the gab.

2. The ‘murder room’ – a darker side to the castle’s history

There is a murder room.
Credit: Flickr / Jennifer Boyer

As the name implies, a murder room’s function leaves little to the imagination. Located above the castle’s entrance, it acted as a deterrent for potential intruders.

From it, the castle guards could shower uninvited guests with anything from heavy rocks to hot oil.

1. The kissing challenge – it’s not as easy as it sounds

One of the Blarney Stone facts is that its not actually that easy to kiss the stone.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Kissing a stone. Sounds pretty easy, right? Think again! The act of kissing the Blarney Stone is not for the faint of heart.

Built into the castle wall, 85 feet off the ground, accessed by 128 narrow stone steps, visitors kiss the stone by lying down on their back, gripping iron bars for balance, and tilting their head backwards until their lips touch the stone.

A challenging but memorable experience, no doubt!

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