Have you ever wondered if the legend of the Blarney Stone is true? Would you really be bestowed with the gift of eloquence if you climbed the steps of Blarney Castle and kissed the mythical Blarney Stone? On a recent trip to Ireland, I felt compelled to see if the legend was true.
Ireland is breathtakingly beautiful, with rolling green hills and picturesque farming land, so it’s no surprise that on my Quadrant Australia Tour of Ireland and the UK that we didn’t head straight to Blarney in County Cork. We meandered along dramatic coastlines and through quaint villages; we sampled Guinness Beer at the storehouse in Dublin and we stood in awe of the amazing Book of Kels at Trinity College.
We explored Ireland, north and south. We met some wonderful locals, including Eamonn, our black cab taxi driver in Belfast, who bravely shared his stories of the conflicts in years gone by and Brendan, a local bus driver who’d grown up on farming land in County Kerry. Despite these characters and the fresh clean air, I couldn’t help but feel impatient at the chance of ticking another item off my bucket list, so it was off to Blarney we went.
On arrival, I was surprised at just how spectacular the castle and gardens were; for a moment I had forgotten that somewhere within reach was the infamous Blarney Stone. I followed the crowds and the glaringly obvious signs and arrived at the foot of Blarney Castle. 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 and here I was, ready to do the same. As I climbed the steps and secretly cursed myself for not wearing more appropriate shoes, the staircase got narrower and steeper; before long the dark, damp stairwell spilt out onto the open roof of the castle, and there it was – the Blarney Stone. I lined up with the hundreds of other tourists who also wanted to benefit from the gift of the gab, but I fooled myself into thinking that I’d be the only one who had a childhood dream to kiss it.
In the line-up, conversation flowed freely and stories were shared. There was the old Scottish man who despite living so near had never been to Ireland and wanted to visit the places he learnt about at school. Tom from the USA had been brought there by his wife; he had no interest in the fantasy of the Blarney Stone, but felt compelled to do it now that he’d come this far. Catherine was there with her daughter, teaching her the family history dating back hundreds of years, and I was there living out a childhood memory.
There at the top of Blarney Castle overlooking the fields of lavender dotted with ancient ruins whilst I stood with a melting pot of cultures, it struck me. The legend of the Blarney Stone had evolved from the days of medieval knights and witches. The modern legend was unfolding right before my eyes. The Blarney Stone, if only for a moment, allowed people from all over the world to stand beside their neighbours and share stories of their lives, creating new memories for the next generation to create their own legend.