Kissing the Bleepin’ Blarney Stone
Blessed With the Gift of Gab
By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 27, 2013
Anyone who knows me will agree that I didn’t need to kiss the bloody Blarney Stone to be touched with the gift of gab.
It was a part of the itinerary during our recent bus tour of Ireland.
Through the window during a soft drizzle we frequently passed ruins of castles, fortresses and abbeys. Or cottages abandoned during the 19th century Potato Famine.
Mass graves were pointed out as well as accounts of recycled coffins.
There was archaeological as well as poetic evidence of an ancient people enduring millennia of hardships attempting to fend off raiders and invaders while scratching out a living from land and sea.
The enormous burial mound of Newgrange, and a Neolithic rock tomb in the lunar Burren, provided evidence of pre Celtic people.
The Romans encountered the rugged people of Hibernia and were wise to leave them well enough alone. Not so the British from the early Kings of England through Margaret Bloody Thatcher.
When monarchs had nothing better to do they invaded Ireland.
There is an irony and humor to the Irish having resisted and survived millennia of conflict and adversity. How they love to spin tales with a recounting of heroes and patriots.
The bus drivers provided a constant stream of amusing patter.
None more colorful than the many versions of the legend of the Blarney Stone.
It seems that Cormac Teige McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, owed a considerable amount of back taxes to Queen Elizabeth. Vexed by his constant excuses she threatened to seize the property.
Traveling to court to plead his case the arguments were so brilliant, embroidered, over the top and outrageous that the Queen just threw up her hands.
Legend has it that he met an old woman on the way to court who told him that anyone who kissed a particular stone in Blarney Castle would be given the gift of eloquent speech.
Responding to his imaginative argument Elizabeth is said to have blurted out that he ‘Has the gift of Blarney.’
The Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na Blarnan) is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometers (5 mi) from Cork. According to legend, kissing the stone endows one with the gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.
The castle and its stone have been a tourist attraction ever since.
As a youngster I loved to read novels like Ivanhoe and tales of King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table.
I imagined great feasting halls and enormous rooms to house families and their many servants.
Approaching Blarney Castle set on a hill we crossed a stream and verdant gardens.
Then we ascended to the fortress first encountering dank narrow dungeons below. Better to have one’s head lopped off than languish long in this hell on earth.
Entering the castle itself, however, we soon realized that nobility lived not much better than servants and prisoners.
Thick stone walls allow for slits of windows.
Bedrooms were small, damp and claustrophobic. It is difficult to imagine much or any furniture. Let alone dragging it up narrow winding stairs.
The great hall for feasting with a huge hearth at one end was anything but grand. The adjoining kitchen seemed not more spacious than to prepare a meager meal.
Being large of frame I forced myself up the narrow stairs. It was challenging to explore some of the small adjoining rooms.
Rather the worse for wear I finally emerged onto the roof or battlements. From there one looked down and rained havoc on potential invaders. There was a clever false door entrance where the enemy was trapped in a small space. It was a good idea to have a pot of boiling oil on hand.
From the top of the castle there was a fine view if a lot of trouble getting there.
We spotted the line of tourists waiting their turn to Kiss the Blarney Stone.
It entails an awkward and embarrassing position.
With the assistance of a couple of men one lies down and is then lowered for a brief encounter of lips to stone. There is a flash of light and you are given a number. For a fee you can pick up a photo of yourself kissing the frigging stone.
What a scam.
The kissing itself though is free.
They see to it, however, that a mate can’t snap a souvenir.
For that they have a cash cow monopoly.
It was off season during our visit so there wasn’t much of a line.
But during the summer, well goodness, can you just imagine.
When they lowered me down I told them I would do it my way.
Like hell was I going to risk life and limb to kiss a bloody stone.
At my age, kissing anyone or anything is serious if not risky business.
Assuming the horizontal position I kissed my fingers and then leaned back and touched them to the rock. Therby planting my DNA and claiming the gift of gab.
So. There you have it.
The true tale of how I kissed the friggin’ Blarney Stone.
Then it was on to Cork for a pint to cleanse my lips.