Saturday, 13 July 2013

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold near the River Martin. Built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland's greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy. Containing the Blarney Stone, the legendary Stone of Eloquence, found at the top of the Tower. For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. “In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the "Wishing Steps," and you emerge sul margine d'un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. “ Croften Croker: "Researches in the South of Ireland," 1824 Maybe we should not be surprised at how eloquent so many of our visitors become. For many of them, however, it is not the Stone but Rock Close that so moves them. Landscaped around many timeless features in the eighteenth century, this is truly an enchanted spot. 

There is a lot more than meets the eye as you journey through diverse surroundings from tranquil to serene, to mystical and magical places. From the top of the Castle you can take in the wonderful views of over 60 acres of sprawling parklands which include gardens, avenues, arboretums and waterways. Find a touch of danger entwined with the beauty, as you look out for one of the few Poison Gardens in Ireland. When looking at the castle it appears even higher than it actually is as the walls slope inward. Then you can simply marvel at the unrivaled beauty that Mother Nature so generously placed together in the acres of parkland. The grounds are covered in ancient trees and far more ancient stones by legend a garden of druidic origin. Blarney is in the province of Munster the land of the Sun Goddesses.

The word Blarney was introduced into the English language by Queen Elizabeth I and is described as pleasant talk, intended to deceive without offending.

Dungeons sections of waist height then opening on to sections of 6 feet going deep under the castle

The Lookout Tower however it's purpose I can only wonder as it is much shorter than the castle itself.

The walls are 18 feet thick and slope inwards making the castle appear taller than it is

At the top of the tower is the famed Blarney Stone where many people lie on their backs holding a steel post to kiss the stone. To kiss the stone you must walk up over 100 steps of spiraling stairs each floor getting smaller than the last.

Oliver Hardy and Winston Churchill are two famous people to have kissed the stone

The Great Hall

The Family Room

Looking down over the Poison Garden where Wolfsbane and Mandrake are on display: remember them in Harry Potter

Blarney House

The Blarney Stone

Badgers Cave through which the garrison escapes when attached by Lord Broghill - it is believed there are three exists one to Cork, one to the Lake and one to Kerry.
The peaceful woodland walk is a quiet, secluded area that leads to a circuit of the 21 acre Blarney Lake. The most amazing trees can be found along this walk growing in groups of about 5 trees with the trucks touching at the bottom. The branches droop down all the way to the ground.

Magnificent trees that tower overhead some 600 years old

The fern garden has over 80 varieties of ferns

The Blarney House

Herbaceous Border

I so could see myself travelling around in this wonderful gypsy wagon

These leaves seemed prehistoric in size

The Dolmen

The Wishing Stairs it is said if you can climb up and down the stairs with your eyes closed thinking of nothing but your wish it will come true- I didn't test the theory. 

Entrance to the Wishing Stairs

Witches Kitchen

Druid's Cave

Witch's Stone - look at the outline the stone makes

Druid Stone Circle

Altar Stone

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