From My Heart To You
Blarney Castle was originally a timber hunting lodge
built in the 10th century, which was replaced by a
stone castle in 1210. The present day castle was
completed by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster in 1446.
Following the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, all Irish
chiefs were stripped of their powers and the McCarthys
were again forced to leave Blarney Castle. The Castle
was sold to Sir James Jefferyes, Governor of Cork in 1703.
Kissing the stone is supposed to give the kisser the gift
of winning persuasiveness (blarney).
It's tough to reach the stone -- it's between the main
castle wall and the parapet. Kissers have to lie on
their back and bend backward (and downward), holding iron
bars for support. Can you imagine kissing something that
has had people's lips all over it for 500 years? Yuck!
The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the
Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney.
The walls of the castle are 18 feet thick.
The stone is believed to be half of the Stone of Scone
which originally belonged to Scotland. Scottish Kings
were crowned over the stone, because it was believed to
have special powers. One of the stories says that an
old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who
had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while
under the spell gave the king the ability to talk sweetly.
He was able to talk anyone into doing things. The stone
was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314
in return for his support in a battle.
Queen Elizabeth I wanted the Irish chiefs to agree to
hold their own lands under title from her. Cormac Teige
McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, handled her every Royal
wish with clever promises keeping loyalty to the Queen
without "giving in". Elizabeth proclaimed that McCarthy
was giving her "a lot of Blarney." This is how the story
began that if you kiss the blarney stone you will also
be able to make clever promises.
Blarney is celebrated the world over for a stone on the
parapet that is said to endow whoever kisses it with the
eternal gift of eloquence - the 'Gift of the Gab'. The
origin of this custom is unknown, though the word
"blarney", meaning to placate with soft talk or to
deceive without offending, probably derives from the
stream of unfulfilled promises of Cormac MacDermot
MacCarthy to the Lord President of Munster in the late
sixteenth century. Having seemingly agreed to deliver
his castle to the Crown, he continuously delayed doing
so with soft words, which came to be known as "Blarney talk".
Five miles north west of the small city of Cork is
the village of Blarney - its name being derived from
the Irish An blarna meaning 'the plain'. Near the
village, standing almost 90 feet in height, is the
solidly built castle of Blarney. Cormac MacCarthy
erected the present castle, the third constructed at
the site, in 1446. Built on a rock, above several
caves, the tower originally had three storeys. On
the top storey, just below the battlements on the
parapet, is the world famous Blarney Stone, said to
give the gift of eloquence to all who kiss it.
Kissing the stone is for some people a difficult
physical feat. In past times, to kiss the Stone
people were hung by their heels over the edge of
the parapet. One day a pilgrim broke from the grasp
of his friends and went hurtling downward to certain
death. Since that time the stone has been kissed by
another method. First, you sit with your back towards
the stone and then someone sits upon your legs or
firmly holds your feet. Next, leaning far back and
downward into the abyss while grasping the iron rails,
you lower yourself until your head is even with the
stone to be kissed.
Just how long this custom has been practiced or how
it originated is not known. One local legend claims
that an old women, saved from drowning by a king of
Munster, rewarded him with a spell, that if he would
kiss a stone on the castle's top, he would gain a
speech that would win all to him. It is known, however,
when and how the word Blarney entered the English
language and the dictionary. During the time of Queen
Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, the ruler of the castle,
was required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as
proof of his loyalty. He said he would be delighted to
do so, but something always happened at the last moment
to prevent his surrender. His excuses became so frequent
and indeed so plausible that the official who had been
demanding the castle in the name of the Queen became a
joke at the Court. Once, when the eloquent excuses of
McCarthy were repeated to the Queen, she said "Odds
bodikins, more Blarney talk!" The term Blarney has
thus come to mean 'the ability to influence and coax
with fair words and soft speech without giving offense'.
Echoing the power of the stone, an Irish bard of the
early nineteenth century, Francis Sylvester Mahony, wrote:
There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh, he never misses
To grow eloquent.
'Tis he may clamber
To a lady's chamber,
Or become a member
Midi ~ The Blarney Pilgrim
Pictures and buttons made by Judy. Triple background is made by Emma.
TRIPLES with EMMA
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