Visiting Blarney Castle is a breeze with this guide!
When John and I started planning our 7-day road trip through Ireland, there were several sites we knew we wanted to visit. One of those sites was Blarney Castle so we could kiss the illustrious Blarney Stone and receive the Gift of the Gab. See our 7-day road trip itinerary here.
Though the castle may be one of Ireland’s most popular tourist spots, it is definitely worth visiting. The afternoon we spent exploring the Blarney Castle and its extensive grounds was a great introduction to the beauty and friendliness of the people of Ireland and one of our favorite experiences there.
Here is everything you need to know when visiting Blarney Castle:
Blarney Castle is located just a 20-minute drive from Cork City in southern Ireland. Many tour operators in Cork offer day trips to the castle but since we had a rental car, John and I made a side trip to the castle on our way from Shannon to Kinsale.
While we definitely recommend visiting the castle, the admission price here is pretty steep. We had a pre-paid voucher for admission so didn’t have to worry about having euros on hand or using our credit card. Adult admission is €18 at the door (or €16 online.) Admission for children ages 8-16 years of age is €8 (or €7 online.)
The castle, which is really more of a medieval fortress, dates back to 1446 and was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster. What you see today is actually the third castle to stand on these grounds, the first being a wooden structure erected around 1210.
The castle’s most famous feature is the stone located at the top. But be sure not to rush through the castle, because the rooms you pass along the way are worth exploring.
The stairway up to the Blarney Stone is not ideal for those with claustrophobia or a fear of steep, dark stairways. Thankfully, there is a sturdy handrail to hang on to while you climb the very narrow spiral staircase.
Once you’re at the top, it’s time to kiss the stone! Legend claims that those who do are granted the gift of eloquence.
I was hesitant up until this point, since kissing a rock covered in thousands of other people’s saliva isn’t exactly my go-to vacation activity. I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I had to give it a go!
In order to access the stone, you have to lay on the ground, grip the hand rails, and tilt your head all the way back so your head is almost upside down. A castle worker will be on hand to hold onto your legs so you don’t slip through the castle walls and plummet to your death. The up-drafting wind creates some unusual hairstyles!
If hanging upside down freaks you out, you can bypass the whole kissing the stone thing and still get a peek at what it’s all about.
After returning to solid ground, John and I took time to explore the nearby garden. But unlike most gardens, the Poison Garden contains only toxic plants! In this garden the plants are so dangerous and toxic that some are kept in large cage structures.
The Poison Garden’s collection of poisonous plants are from all over the world and includes Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, Opium and Cannabis. Many of these are labelled with information about their toxicity and traditional and modern uses. A large number of plants that are now known to be toxic were once used widely as herbal remedies for all sorts of ailments.
Aside from the Poison Garden, the Blarney Castle grounds are home to numerous traditional gardens containing plants that are incredibly beautiful, so be sure to take time to explore them. Enjoy the lovely waterfalls and numerous stone bridges as well.
Blarney House and Grounds
The Blarney House is an impressive mansion not too far from the castle. It was originally built in 1874 and has since been beautifully restored.
Visitors are allowed to tour the house during most of the summer months, but it was closed when we were there late on a Sunday afternoon in early June.
The grounds of Blarney Castle are very extensive and we are sad that we didn’t have more time to explore. If you go, make a whole day of it as it will take that long to see and enjoy everything.
Whether John and I are more eloquent after kissing the stone remains to be seen, but we enjoyed visiting Blarney Castle regardless!
Have you kissed the Blarney Stone? Do you want to? Let me know in a comment below!!
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