I’ve seen quite a few castles in my time in many different countries, but none are quite so charming as Blarney Castle in Southern Ireland. There’s a reason it’s one of the most famous castles in all of Ireland- a title which really means something in a country where there are literally hundreds of castles through the cities and countryside.
Blarney Castle, 2015. c. Leah Putz
The current castle as it stands dates all the way back to 1446, but it’s believed that there were fortifications on site as early as the 1100s. Since its construction, Blarney Castle has stood strong and nearly intact through the test of time. There’s something really magical about being inside or stranding upon a structure that has survived through so many years.
Blarney Castle Tower, 2015. c. Leah Putz
View of the Irish countryside from atop Blarney Castle, 2015. c. Leah Putz
The Blarney Castle grounds are enormous. Gardens cover every inch of the area, including the poison garden which features poisonous plants in large cages. If you’re planning a visit, I would suggest setting aside a whole day because it will take that long to explore the beauty of the various gardens as well as the castle itself. There are also many other historical features on the Blarney Castle grounds, like the noble horse graveyard and the Blarney House, a mansion which was built in the 18th century.
Gravestone of Tullig the horse, 2015. c. Leah Putz
Seven Sisters and other photos from the Blarney Castle gardens, 2015. c. Leah Putz
One of the most critical moments in the castle’s history is the placement of the Blarney Stone into the tower in 1446. People travel far and wide to kiss and stone and – according to legend – receive ‘the gift of Blarney’ or the ‘gift of gab’. The origin of this magical stone is shrouded in mystery, making it all the more appealing to visit. One of the theories as to its origins tells of Blarney lord Cormac McCarthy, who kissed the stone that had been blessed by the Irish goddess Cliodhna and was thus able to convince Queen Elizabeth I not to deprive him of his lands. While kissing the stone yourself, try not to think about the fact that its been kissed by millions before you, and just enjoy the adrenaline rush of hanging upside down over a clear drop from the top of the tower of the castle to reach it!
Kissing the Blarney Stone, 2015. c. Leah Putz