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A Little Blarney…Would You Kiss the Stone?

Lush Green Grounds

Blarney Castle grounds

Ireland is one of the most charming countries on the planet. Okay, I know that’s a pretty bold statement considering all of the amazing places I visited over the past year, and while Laos and Nepal in particular hold special places in my heart, Ireland just feels like home.

I was nursed on stories of the Emerald Isle growing up, pictures of the O’Donnell crest on the wall, the myths of the silkies and fairies, and plenty of photos from my dad’s visits to the country. Perhaps this set the stage for why I love the country so much. I visited Ireland in 2005 with my dad and focused mostly on County Donegal; we rented a car and got lost in the tiny winding roads and hiked in the sheep pastures to the rugged coastline.

This time I was on my own and focused my attentions on mid to south West Coast of Ireland. I opted to rent a car; and while not an entirely sane idea since I hail from a right-side-of-the-road country and I was traveling solo, I had my reasons (and I’ll cover them next week in a post about bargaining down for an amazing rental car price).Blarney Castle

Landing in Dublin and then immediately heading out on the massive highway system was like baptism by fire. My blood pressure skyrocketed when I approached the first round-about: I held my breath, tapped on my turn signal, looked left…no WAIT – crap, looked right and then ventured on my way for the several hour drive down to Cork.

Cork is a pretty big city, but it’s consumable. You’ve likely realized that I am not a “big-city” person, and Cork actually runs a fine line…but there is still plenty of charm in the city. And, naturally, Blarney Castle is a big draw for travelers seeking Blarney’s gift of gab by kissing the stone.

So the burning question did I kiss the stone? Did I really put my lips on that wet slab of germ-infested rock where thousands have done-so before me? Did I actually DANGLE my body off the side of the castle and risk my life?!

Yes.

Blarney Castle in the Irish RainAlthough perhaps not that melodramatically! I mean, how can you not? You’re there, it’s there, and it may be cheesy and touristy…but I’m cheesy and occasionally touristy, so I saw no issue.

The Blarney Stone is a mysterious block of bluestone set into the actual walls and structure of Blarney Castle. Speculation has linked the bluestone to everything from Moses to the Wailing Wall. Legend has it that kissing the stone gifts the kisser with great skills of eloquence and flattery…but not necessarily a positive thing since the term “blarney” is associated with empty flattery and a bit of BS-ing.

For all of the hullabaloo about kissing the stone, the castle itself is actually really neat too and the surrounding castle grounds are gorgeous. The dank and tiny winding staircases are not for the claustrophobic, but the sweeping views of lush green country and manicured gardens are worth the trip to the top.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Kissing the Stone! I realize my scarf is not ideal situated ;-)

It’s also perhaps not for the feint of heart – you have to dangle yourself over the gaping hole in the castle floor (bared as you can see), death-grip the handrails and the man assisting unceremoniously grabs two fist-fulls of your clothes and shoves you close enough to kiss the stone. A heartbeat later you’re hauled upright and sent on your way.

TripAdvisor.com apparently ranked the Blarney Stone as the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world. I think that’s a riot!

I’m not sure if my voice is more mellifluous and my speech more eloquent, but I’m certainly still glad I kissed the stone.

Tell me, would YOU have kissed the stone? Or do you now think my lips are now tainted for a lifetime  ;-) Leave a comment and let me know!

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  • http://rachelcotterill.blogspot.com Rachel Cotterill

    To be honest, I probably wouldn't bother… I'd just take some photos of other people doing it ;) I do love castles, though.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      You'd have loved Blarney Castle then – it was really quite pretty :-) I lived watching the others too – showed me how ridiculous I had just looked!

  • http://www.talesfromtwocities.wordpress.com Kirsten

    I lived in Ireland for 3 years and never saw the Blarney stone – awful, I know! I went lots of other places though. If I did go, I think I'd blow it a kiss ;)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      You never saw it!! I succumb to the touristy too much to have missed it. So far though it seems as though no one else would have kissed it! Sheesh :-) Perhaps though you'd still get some of the benefits from a blown kiss – I like it, nice compromise ;-)

  • http://www.theqfamilyadventures.com Amy @ The Q Family

    I don't know. If I have traveled that far, I would probably do it. But answering now from the comfort of my home after a whole week inside a house with 2 sick kids, my first instinct was no.. :)

    Your scarf makes it look like you are harnessed. I thought wow.. it must be really dangerous to kiss the rock. ;)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Lol! No, def not harness-worthy :-) All of the mom's I know have been battling flu viruses these last few weeks, sorry to hear that it stuck near you guys too! Hope the little ones are better :-) And glad to have some support about kissing the rock! I mean, exactly, you're all the way over there!

  • http://www.theplanetd.com Dave and Deb

    I would totally do it! It looks like a blast. And I never worry much about germs. We are becoming so germaphobic. I always think that all of that hand sanitizer and disinfectant does more harm than good. I will take Good old fashioned germs over chemicals any day.
    Amy is right, your scarf just looks like a harness:)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      I'd hoped you back me up Deb!! And I soo agree about the germs – they say that kids who grow up in households with dogs and cats have stronger immune systems because they're exposed to more germs.. they're not all bad :-)

  • http://angryredhead.wordpress.com Candice

    I kissed the stone! It was magical.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Excellent!! Did you feel the gift of gab flow through you!? ;-)

      • http://angryredhead.wordpress.com Candice

        Absolutely! And I smashed my head on the rock. Seriously.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

          Oh my god! Hoping blood was not involved in this story at any point…at least you should be set for life as far as the gifts of the stone are concerned! :-)

  • Lisandra

    Well…. although it is totally gross when you think about it, so are about a million other things in this world. Like have you ever thought of how many germs are on a gas pump. gross. So I would totally kiss the stone… just maybe with a thick layer of chap stick that I could use as a barrier between me and herpes simplex 1. ;) Loved this post!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Glad you're with me Lisandra! I like the chap-stick idea…it was cold that day so I likely had some on, score! You crack me up w/the herpes comment, lol. :-)

  • http://foxnomad.com Anil

    I would kiss the stone – a keyboard is probably more germy! I'm with Deb and Dave, I think people worry too much about it.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Here, here, you need a little germy-ness in your life – keeps it all more interesting ;-) and likely strengthens your immune system.

  • http://ladyisatraveler.blogspot.com/ Laura

    Yes! Been there, done it, and lived to tell the tale! It's a fun adventure and not one you have to pay extra for ;)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Glad you lived through it! And has your new gift of gab enhanced your life ;-)

  • Robin Hodge

    Hi. Good morning from a very wet and windy NW Ireland. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip – so much to see. I'm 54 and have been down to kiss the stone over 20 years ago. Thats the only time I've been there – I enjoy countryside so much more. Come back some time!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ShannonRTW ShannonRTW

      Thanks Robin! I spent some time in Clifden and in the smaller towns around there and thought that it was just amazingly friendly and peaceful; you can bet that I'll be back :-)

  • http://www.diggz.org Diggz

    I'm still scratching my head wondering why I didn't meet you in Ireland. And yes, I plan to french kiss that stone when I meet it.

  • http://twitter.com/ForksandJets Forks and Jets

    We were so close to Ireland, but didn't have time to cross over. The worst part of RTW traveling is missing places even if it is impossible to see every last inch of earth. Ireland looks beautiful!

    I think we would have kissed the Blarney Stone, we licked the walls in the Salt Mines of Wieliczka, Poland, which didn't seem very hygienic either.

  • http://twitter.com/ForksandJets Forks and Jets

    We were so close to Ireland, but didn't have time to cross over. The worst part of RTW traveling is missing places even if it is impossible to see every last inch of earth. Ireland looks beautiful!

    I think we would have kissed the Blarney Stone, we licked the walls in the Salt Mines of Wieliczka, Poland, which didn't seem very hygienic either.

  • http://twitter.com/goaheadtours Go Ahead Tours

    Shannon – So glad you were brave enough to do what many joke about or yearn to do! And see; you survived to tell the tale. Thanks for sharing your experience. ~ Go Ahead Tours

  • tymesgal

    came across your website by accident, via a link from twitter…I love every piece of it! I have had the chance to visit Ireland once, and only Dublin with a short trip to the Wicklow Mts. and quaint little Dolkey. I can't wait to go back and travel the backroads…just haven't gathered the gumption to drive!

    Thanks for your fun and wonderful site!

  • http://twitter.com/goaheadtours Go Ahead Tours

    Shannon – So glad you were brave enough to do what many joke about or yearn to do! And see; you survived to tell the tale. Thanks for sharing your experience. ~ Go Ahead Tours

    • ShannonOD

      I did survive and had an amazing time! Ireland was the end of my RTW trip and it was really a life-changing through and through :-)

  • ShannonOD

    I did survive and had an amazing time! Ireland was the end of my RTW trip and it was really a life-changing through and through :-)

  • tymesgal

    came across your website by accident, via a link from twitter…I love every piece of it! I have had the chance to visit Ireland once, and only Dublin with a short trip to the Wicklow Mts. and quaint little Dolkey. I can't wait to go back and travel the backroads…just haven't gathered the gumption to drive!

    Thanks for your fun and wonderful site!

  • http://www.happycatastrophe.com/ Jenn Coll

    Catching up on your blog.

    Yes, I would have kissed it. But you prob would have guessed that.

  • http://www.happycatastrophe.com/ Jenn Coll

    Catching up on your blog.

    Yes, I would have kissed it. But you prob would have guessed that.

    • ShannonOD

      Oh yeah, I know you'd have been right there with me :-)

  • ShannonOD

    Oh yeah, I know you'd have been right there with me :-)

  • http://www.gourmantic.com/ Gourmantic

    This looks like so much fun! I'd get Mr G to kiss his heritage… while I take photos ;)

  • http://www.gourmantic.com/ Gourmantic

    This looks like so much fun! I'd get Mr G to kiss his heritage… while I take photos ;)

    • ShannonOD

      You'd have to do it to!?! It's not just a gift for the Irish…unless your
      like me, I kissed it anyone, but I certainly didn't need any more of the
      “gift of gab” ;-)

  • ShannonOD

    You'd have to do it to!?! It's not just a gift for the Irish…unless your
    like me, I kissed it anyone, but I certainly didn't need any more of the
    “gift of gab” ;-)

  • play blackjack free

    The dank and tiny winding staircases are not for the claustrophobic, but the sweeping views of lush green country and manicured gardens are worth the trip to the top.the castle itself is actually really neat too and the surrounding castle grounds are gorgeous.