Before we came to Ireland we had heard much family lore about the “Blarney Castle” and the “Blarney Stone”, I must say.  Like many Irish families I guess, our’s no exception, stories are legend.  My father was famous for them.  When my brother Mike was so kind to take my father on a trip to Ireland my father reported that “I did not kiss the Blarney stone, it kissed me,” almost as a badge of honor – if you knew my father he was bragging about how much blarney he had, and no one could top him.

Before I came to Ireland, I told my friend Kim about the trip and said I would visit the infamous Blarney Castle and told her about the legend that if you kissed the Blarney Stone you would get the “gift of gab.”  My beloved friend Kim, who worked with me for four years and had to put up with me did not lose a beat and quipped “maybe if you kiss it you will be cured.”  Ha.

So we visited the Blarney Castle on July 10.  Wee rather expected it to not like it much, to be a tourist trap, but we were quite surprised.  Not only was the castle quite wonderful (see below), but the grounds were great (especially a couple of the gardens).  We ended up spending a whole morning, unexpectedly.

We of course got in line to kiss the stone, as you will see.  A couple pictures explain the whole legend of where the legend came from – Queen Elizabeth I complained when her emissary made no sense (“it’s all blarney, she said”). 

 Note that there’s a neat reference to St. Louis on one sign posted near the stone.  It is quite a steep climb to the tone as you will see when I took a picture from below (note the narrow gap people lean down and kiss the stone way above). 

 Shirley and I each kissed the stone, as you see.

There are great gardens there including a fabulous garden presenting many poisonous plants which we enjoyed.  Also there is a very quiet peaceful Fern Garden, and we were the only ones who took the trek there. 

The Fern Garden...

We took a hike to the Blarney House, and this probably was the highlight of the visit for Shirley.  She thought tours were not possible, but they were.  It is a private residence, but descendants of the family live there now, and he allows visitors to tour.  Shirley loved the house as it reminded her of Downton Abbey, as you will see.