“I just have to kiss the Blarney Stone!”
That was one of the first things my mom said after we decided on our trip to Ireland.
I resisted an eye roll, because I get it. When in Rome, you have to throw a coin in Trevi Fountain. When in London, you have to see Big Ben. When in Cape Town, you have to go to Table Mountain (or at least take a picture of it from below). These are the places to check off the list, no matter how overrated or tourist filled they might be.
And the Blarney Stone is on that list.
Located in Cork, Ireland, the stone can be found at the top of Blarney Castle. According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone will give you the gift of eloquence of speech—not the gift of gab. Talking profusely does not equal speaking well.
The grounds of Blarney Castle are quite large and include several trails that explore the interior of the park as well as the perimeter. The castle itself is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and wandering through them could easily turn into an all-day affair.
But the main event is kissing the rock.
Getting to the Blarney Stone takes a bit of effort. The spiral staircases in the castle are made up of old stone “trip” steps, with little more than a rope down the center to hold onto, and I imagine standing in a long line in the stairwell could be particularly claustrophobic. (We lucked out in that there weren’t many people at the castle that day.)
Once at the top, there is a lovely view of the grounds.
And, while I’m no railing expert, it didn’t appear many upgrades had been made since 1897.
After climbing two flights of stairs and standing on the edge of the castle wall, the Blarney Stone clearly in our sight, my mom turned to me, and, like a small child about to ride her first roller coaster, said, “I can’t do this!” She was looking behind me for an escape route, but the group from Long Island was making sure there was no way out in that direction.
And like a mother staring at the kid who made her stand in line for 20 minutes to ride the damn roller coaster, I looked at my mom and said, “Turn around. You’re going to walk over there and kiss the stone. Now.”
She started wringing her hands, and the real reason she didn’t want to kiss the stone came out, “What if I can’t get up?”
It’s a legitimate concern. To kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to lie down on your back and lean backwards over the edge of the castle. If you need a little help standing on your feet, too much force could send you toppling over that sturdy railing circa 1897. An unlikely situation, I know. But come on. Look at that railing.
That’s when the Long Island crew came into play. They, too, were wary of the up and down. And a full on cheering section was soon in effect.
In the end, she did it.
And me? I have to be honest, I didn’t really want to kiss the rock. I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe, not in a Howie Mandel sense, but I’m an avid hand washer. I like to sing the alphabet song while scrubbing just to be sure my hands have been sudsed up long enough.
But you can’t go to New York City without going to Times Square, right? So I couldn’t go to the top of Blarney Castle and not kiss the Blarney Stone.
Unfortunately, things between me and the rock got weird. I’m not sure, but I might have gotten to second base with the stone. As I said, germs. When it was my turn for the kiss, I just lightly brushed the slobbery stone with my lips, trying to avoid full on contact. The little helper guy next to me? He was not impressed. “NO! Again!” he said and pushed me toward the stone, smashing my face into the side of the castle, so much so, there was definitely tongue.
It’s been over a month now, and I haven’t exhibited any signs of Blarney mouth disease, so hopefully I’m in the clear. But the rock and I can never go back to the friend zone.
And after looking at the pictures, I’m not sure I kissed the right spot. I’m pretty certain that’s the stone near the bottom, and it appears most of the lip marks are higher than that.
So should you do it? Uh, would you go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower?
Just be sure to give yourself time to explore the grounds. The Blarney House wasn’t open while we were there, but I had fun playing in the trees anyway.