The Gift of Blarney ~ County Cork, Ireland
Blarney Castle grounds and entry tower.
“Did you kiss the stone?” my daughter asked me by phone from London.
“No, but I kissed someone who did,” I replied, laughing. “They say that that is the next best thing.”
Now, I could tell you that I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone because, as I end my second year of Weekly Wanders, I don’t want to add more gab to my postings, but that would be blarney.
Truth is, after exploring the gardens in the pouring rain and working my way around the castle and up the wet and narrow stairways, I couldn’t cope with the idea of removing my hat, glasses, raincoat, umbrella, two cameras and camera bag – all while standing exposed to the wind and rain at the top of the battlements – in order to be suspended upside-down by a gruff man in a raincoat so that I could kiss a rock. My husband, however, was more amenable, and I reckon that was enough for both of us!
I didn’t mind missing out, because – to my mind – the real joy of a visit to Blarney Castle is a walk through the extensive gardens, and taking in the charm of the castle itself. It rained on the day of our visit (as it has just about every day of our stay – Ireland has just finished the wettest June on record), but this only added to my sense that there might just be faeries around the next corner…
It may be summer, but the visitors in the grounds of Blarney Castle, across the River Martin are rugged up in raincoats or huddled under umbrellas.
Fir boughs, laden with rain, hang low over a pathway.
Rain drops and spider webs cling to delicate plants.
Water falls over the Wishing Steps.
According to the story, if you walk down the Wishing Steps then backwards up them with your eyes closed, thinking of nothing but your wish, it will be granted.
It is easy to imagine flower-fairies living here.
This stone is said to be the likeness of the Blarney Witch, who wanders the woods looking for fire wood.
The Druid Stones are mossy and over-grown.
All that rain is how the island stays “Emerald.”
What is left of Blarney Castle (built in 1446) is rather plain on the exterior.
Without the benefit of a roof, it is as wet inside Blarney Castle as outside.
Moss and ivy grows where the kitchen once operated.
On the ramparts, people gather for their kisses.
The formal gardens from the ramparts.
Hanging from the wet Blarney ramparts to kiss the ancient stone – the ground is far below.
Every castle needs a back entry.
The paths wind around the castle and back through more gardens.
In the still-wet gardens outside the castle, trees from around the world are on show.
Tower beside the Blarney River.
In the “Poison Garden” there are examples of medicinal plants, including foxglove (digitalis).
Ivy grows everywhere.
A simple rose climbs the old iron fence.
I didn’t notice any improvement in eloquence from my husband – or indeed myself – but I was entranced by the castle site and left it with pink cheeks and a happy heart.
That is its true gift.
Sláinte! Good health!