Blarney Castle, as viewed by the visitor today, is the third to have been erected on this site. The first building in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone structure which had the entrance some twenty feet above the ground on the north face. This building was demolished for foundations. In 1446 the third castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, and one of Ireland`s greatest chieftains. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney making it a world landmark and one of Ireland`s greatest treasures.

Kiss the Blarney Stone

The Stone of Eloquence
Some say it was Jacob`s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or `Fatal Stone`, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like `sorting hat` for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny. When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland. Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the `Stone of Ezel` behind which David hid on Jonathan`s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses. Whatever the truth of its origin, we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys. For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.

Once upon a time, visitors had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. Today, the Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence.

What to See

The North Wall
Blarney Castle sits directly on a 26 foot cliff of rock, which formed the quarry for building the castle. The seam you can see on the right-hand side of the wall shows that the Castle was built in two stages, the right-hand part being a tall thin tower. The casemented oriel window projects out from the Earl`s Bedchamber and sets Blarney a cut above the everyday Irish castle. But what projects from the three large square holes in the wall is best left unsaid. These are the outlets for the garderobes, and before you ask for a translation, note that these were always built downwind. It was not all cold winds and bleak stonework. Originally, these walls would have been whitewashed.

The Court
Against the east wall of the Castle, you can see the ruins of a late eighteenth century Gothic mansion, known as `the Court`, and built in 1739 by the Jeffereys, who bought the Castle in 1703, but found it rather uncomfortable to live in. It was a grand residence, three storeys high, with ranges of casement windows facing east, and was a thriving and lively country house through the latter part of the eighteenth century. Sadly it was destroyed by fire in 1820 and all remaining good building materials were sold off.

The Dungeon
Beneath the tower house, you will find a labyrinth of underground passages and chambers, dating from different periods in the Castle history. Now mostly inaccessible, many are beyond the most intrepid explorer. If you do venture within, you will find the chambers of what is believed to have been the Castle prison. If you climb the left-hand of the parallel staircases, you will find the chamber that some say housed the Castle well. The well`s vital role in times of siege would have ensured it considerable protection. A nowadays-inaccessible tunnel, over 50 feet long, connects this chamber to a small cave in the rock - possibly an attempt to force entry by a besieging army.

The Battlements View
There`s not just the Stone to make the climb to the battlements worthwhile. In 1837, Samuel Lewis wrote that the top of the Castle commands a very fine view over a rich undulating tract... on the east is the Comane bog, many years since an impenetrable wilderness, and the last receptacle for wolves in this part of the country: that river, which takes its name from its serpentine course, flows through the bog and joins the river Blarney under the walls of the castle...

Badger`s Cave
When Cromwell`s general, Lord Broghill, besieged the castle, he fired down from Card Hill above the lake and broke the tower walls. Yet when he entered the castle, he found only two trusty old retainers. The main garrison had fled through this cave. All had gone as well as the gold plate that Broghill expected to claim. Legend tells us there are three passages to find in the darkness beyond - one to Cork, one to the lake, and one all the way to Kerry. But this being Blarney, the passages may be as hard to find as the gold...

The Witch Stone
It takes little imagination to see who is imprisoned here. The Witch of Blarney has been around since the dawn of time. Some say it was she who first told MacCarthy of the power of the Blarney Stone. Fortunately for visitors, she only escapes the witch stone after nightfall and the castle closes at dusk.

Wishing Steps
Within Rock Close, you come across an archway of limestone rocks. Step through and you find yourself on the Wishing Steps. If you can walk down and back up these steps with your eyes closed - some demand that this be done walking backwards - and without stopping for one moment to think of anything other than a wish, then that wish will come true within a year. Some say that the granting of this wish is the witch`s way of paying for her firewood. The steps can be slippery so care is required.

Witch`s Kitchen
Believed to have been home to the very first Irish cave dwellers across the mists of time. If you arrive early enough in the morning, you will still see the dying embers of a fire. This is lit every night by the Blarney Castle witch, as she fights to stop shivering on her nocturnal escape from the Witch Stone.

The Lake
Legend has it that the treasure of the MacCarthys was thrown into the depths of the Lake. Despite one of the ancestors of the current owner having almost drained the lake in the search, nothing can be confirmed.

The Unexpected
The grounds of Blarney Castle are magical acres in a timeless Ireland. What you see may depend on how hard you look and how willing your eyes are to see. Ghosts of salmon can be seen leaping in the Martin River for ghosts of flies. And they say that at times of impending danger, a herd of enchanted cows walks from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the Castle.