The kiss of death?

It’s safer these days to kiss the Blarney Stone than when you were dangled off a castle – but that doesn’t mean it’s now a comfortable experience!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


The Blarney Stone, Ireland

The man takes a hold of me as I lie down on my back. I grab two metal poles behind me and start to arch myself until my head is perpendicular to the rest of my body.

The man then starts to lower me down into a hole in the floor. This is not the most natural of feelings but these are the things you do to kiss the most famous stone in Ireland.

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

The man’s name is Dennis – I guess it’s appropriate to at least be on a first name basis with someone holding me so intimately as I share my saliva (albeit with an inanimate object). He’s seen his fair share of strange things from his perch up here on the top of Blarney Castle.

“When someone takes a dive at the stone,” is his answer when I ask about weird things that happen.

“It never happens with a lady, it’s always with a man. He comes down here, he’s very quiet and nothing happens and when he comes here, it’s a dive he does.”

“And he’s never small. He’s always big. I can’t tell you the words I use in my own mind – they’re not gracious words!”

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

The Blarney Stone has become one of the most iconic symbols of Ireland, as far as foreign tourists go, but a lot of people are never really sure how to picture it.

Is it a boulder set apart from the other buildings?

A grand piece of art in the entrance to the castle?

Or displayed on a table in one of the rooms?

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland
kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

Well, no, none of them. It is at the very top of the castle and, after the climb up the very narrow circular stone staircase, even then it’s hard to see.

It’s tucked away down the far end, a brick in a wall beneath the level you would walk. You would never spot it there if you weren’t told where to look – and, as Dennis explains, that’s the whole point.

“It came from Jerusalem during the crusades and was given as gift here,” he says.

“It was part of an altar stone. In the completion of this castle in 1446 it was built in there and the reason was safekeeping as the tribes of the time wanted to take it, right?”

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

There are many legends about the Blarney stone but they all involve the ‘gift of the gab’.

One story is that the Lord of Blarney was being asked by Queen Elizabeth I to give up his land and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to persuade her otherwise. But after kissing the stone he was able to talk her out of her demand.

Another is of a man who had a speech impediment and when he kissed the stone he was suddenly (and apparently miraculously) able to talk normally.

Of course, this could have had something to do with the old method of kissing which involved being held by the ankles and dangled off the side of the castle. That would surely shock the words into your mouth!

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

Blarney Castle, Ireland

These days it’s much safer and there’s absolutely no risk of falling from the top of the castle – but there were still some people in front of me who were too scared to go through with it.

Luckily for them, the trip would not have been a waste because there are plenty of other things to see.

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

Blarney Castle itself is an interesting old building which has been left in a state of disrepair. There are no renovations or restorations – just an old stone shell you can explore at your leisure.

There are also large beautiful gardens surrounding the castle, a small collection of poisonous plants (with appropriate warnings), a rock garden, and a large mansion which is open to the public.

kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland
kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland
kissing blarney stone, blarney castle, ireland

As I leave, I try to decide whether I have become chattier as a result of my passionate embrace with a wall. I’m unable to work it out and it’s not until I settle down at a restaurant in the nearby city of Cork to ponder it, beer in hand, I decide I have. Although that could just be the beer talking.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Stena Line, Paddy Wagon Tours and Discover Ireland but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

9 thoughts on “The kiss of death?”

  1. I kissed the Blarney Stone in 2004 — still waiting for gift of eloquence. 🙂 Before I visited, I always pictured the stone as a rock on the grounds somewhere — don’t know why. I thought the grounds were very beautiful, too.

  2. Funny, my husband and I were just talking about our to-do list in Ireland when we make the trip and the Blarney Stone came up. I had no idea until I read your post that it would be such a feat to actually kiss it. I doubt my husband does either. I think I’ll keep that a secret until we get there. ;o)


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