Get ready for a long post! 🙂
My first job in Ireland was for a tour company. If I ever needed to go somewhere I would just jump on a bus passing through. So, I have currently visited Blarney twice. This is often the last day of tour when the group heads back to Dublin through Blarney, Co. Cork and either Killkenny, the Rock of Dunamase, Cahir or Cashel.
Unfortunately, the times I have visited Blarney have been rather washed out. The first was at the height of winter and the second, a rainy day in early summer. Blarney is the sort of place I’d like to go for a picnic. The kissing and gift of the gab thing is really surplus to requirement when you can stroll the pretty extensive grounds.
The castle itself was originally a wooden structure built in the tenth century. The castle today is much more recent. It was built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, the King of Munster.
The story behind the stone is the Robert the Bruce sent the stone of scone to Cormac McCarthy in 1314 as thanks for supplying troops for the Battle of Bannockburn. McCarthy incorporated the stone in the battlements of the keep where you can now launch yourself from to kiss it (ok, it’s not that dramatic).
The McCarthy’s seem to be quite the cunning bunch. Queen Elizabeth I of England sent the Earl of Leicester to take possession of the castle from the King of Munster. This didn’t suit the King and he was always coming up with banquets and excuses to delay negotiating terms. The Earl had to likewise come up with length excuses to send back to Her Majesty regarding why the castle hadn’t been taken. It was these reports that the Queen referred to as “all blarney.” Hence the name Blarney Castle.
The Rock of Dunamase is about an hour southwest of Dublin in Co. Loaise. It’s quite off the beaten track and that’s perfect! On a clear day, or at least one where the weather is holding, you can see for miles.
Original occupation at the site began around the 9th century, making one of the most historic places in Ireland. A medieval castle was built on the site, but by 1350 it was disused and only given token attention by Oliver Cromwell when he blew up parts of it to prevent its being used as a stronghold. So there isn’t much to say about it. Not really any romantic tales. An Abbess was killed here by the vikings, supposedly. But you go for the peace, the view and the sense of something just being incredible old!