When I was traveling around Europe with my friends, I decided on a whim to do something adventurous.
My friend Daphne who had Irish heritage told us that on the trip to Ireland she wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone. I was curious to know what this was about, and why she wanted to kiss a rock.
The Blarney Stone is a famous piece of rock that is mounted high on a castle wall in Ireland.
The legend goes that in 1446, the builder of Blarney Castle Cormack MacCarthy found himself in trouble with the law. Before he was summoned to the court, he tried to improve his odds of winning his case, by asking the Queen of the Banshees to help him.
The Queen told him to kiss the first stone he saw on his way to court. This he did. He pressed his lips to the cold piece of rock, and then went on to the courthouse.
That day, in front of the court, MacCarthy spoke with such eloquence that he won his case.
On his way back he took the stone with him back to the castle. He had it incorporated into the battlement and parapet of the castle.
All this happened over six hundred years ago. Since that time millions of people have been traveling to Blarney Castle from all parts of the world. Each one hoping that when they kiss the Blarney Stone, they too will be blessed with the gift of eloquence.
After hearing this story, I decided while we were in Ireland that I would like to kiss the famous Blarney Stone as well.
We stood looking at Blarney Castle; standing twenty-seven metres in height housing the Blarney Stone. To my surprise, it was partly in ruins with a few rooms and a large battlement. We paid our fee and climbed the many stone steps to reach the top of the battlement.
I should have probably mentioned that all my life I have had a strong fear of heights, and it wasn’t until we started to climb the stairs that I realized the Blarney stone is actually placed in a wall high off the ground.
As we stood in line waiting our turn to kiss the Blarney Stone, I wondered if I really wanted to do it.
I also thought about the ‘millions’ of lips that had kissed the stone and wondered just how hygienic it really was.
Finally, we reached the top of the stairs and were close to the famous stone. This is when it got really scary.
There is actually a large gap between the battlement wall and the parapet in which the Blarney stone sits. To kiss the Blarney Stone you must lie on your back, hold the two rails behind you. You slide backward and downwards with a guide holding your feet. There is no safety net or guard rail.
I pictured myself hanging over the sheer drop, face to face with the Blarney Stone, hanging from the castle wall… just so I could kiss a rock.
I started to wonder why I had agreed to do this…
Daphne went first. She had no fear of heights, but I was shaking just standing there taking photos of her kissing the stone.
Suddenly, it was my turn.
The guide instructed me “Glasses off, money out of your pockets”.
I took a deep breath, laid down on the edge of the stone floor. The guide took hold of my feet. I grabbed the rails and hanging on for grim death, I slid backward until I faced the Blarney Stone. I could feel the cold wind from the outside of the castle across my face. I could see the sheer drop beneath me, my heart jumped a beat.
In that moment, I pressed my lips against the cold stone.
My friend took a photo of this ordeal. I felt a sigh of relief as I stood with my two feet firmly on the ground.
Yes, my friend and I both kissed the Blarney Stone and we have both got photos and certificates to prove it.
Was I given the gift of eloquence?
I hope so. After risking my life and facing one of my greatest fears hanging over a twenty-seven metre drop, I think a little reward is in order.
Even if I am not even Irish.