The traveler’s guide to Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, photo by postdlf

The small town of Blarney eight miles north of Cork would be your run of the mill Irish town whereyou can spend your days walking the countryside, enjoying the local cuisine, and the brews in the pub. But Blarney has one very important thing that sets it apart from other towns: the famous Blarney Castle, a medieval stronghold that became one of the celebrated attractions in Ireland. Whoever comes to visit County Cork inevitably ends up at Blarney Castle, either to revel in the historical atmosphere of the building, to shop at the old Blarney Wool Mill or to kiss the Blarney stone in hopes becoming experts at rhetoric. Here is a traveler’s guide to Blarney Castle, to give you some info before your trip.

History

The original castle dates back to the early 13th century, and it enjoyed two hundred years of relative completeness before being destroyed in the 15th century and rebuilt shortly after. The castle survived a long string of sieges and dead owners, and it changed hands several times until the 20th century. The family who owned the castle built Blarney House, a baronial mansion near the lake on the estate, and the castle slowly fell into ruins. Although only some ruins and battlements of the castle are accessible anymore, plenty of people visit the castle, making it the most visited attraction in Cork.

Things to see and do

Blarney Castle, photo by DaemonTodd on Flickr

If you are not afraid to bend backwards and hang upside down, you can kiss the Blarney Stone, which according to legends will grant you incredible eloquence – the gift of the gab. For two centuries, writers, artists and politicians came to Blarney to kiss the stone. In the past, visitors would have to be suspended by their ankles to reach the stone, but today there are safety bars you can hold unto. But the stone is not the only highlight on the grounds of Blarney Castle: the Rock Close is the spot that manages to touch the hearts of all those who see it. The Rock Close is an ancient Druidic settlement where human construction and nature are in perfect harmony. Wander through the close, take a peek at the dolmen, wishing steps and a witch’s kitchen and relax in the water garden.

While on the castle grounds, don’t forget to visit the Blarney Woolen Mills, one of the oldest and most authentic woolen mills in Ireland. There is a hotel next to the mills where you can spend a few nights in utter luxury. If you are interesting in some great souvenirs, visit the Mill’s shop where you can buy lovely Irish sweaters and other things made of wool.

 

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