Conquering Blarney Castle

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Cork, Ireland - Blarney Castle

The Castle

Blarney Castle is an popular tourist attraction for anyone who’s ever had an interest in Ireland.  As the story goes, in 1314 Robert the Bruce arranged for a piece of stone to be installed in the stronghold of Cormac McCarthy’s Blarney Castle to show his gratitude for the Irish support during the Battle of Bannockburn.  The legend says that whoever kisses the stone will be given the gift of eloquence.  Usually tongue-tied, I obviously had to do everything in my power to try change that.

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Cork, Ireland - Blarney Castle 2

Upon entering the first level of the castle, I thought, “Okay, champ let’s go kiss this stone!”  I knew the price of eloquence would be costly, but nobody warned me that we’d first have to find our way through a maze of rooms and ascend a steep, narrowing spiral staircase up to the top level, where the stone was actually kept.

So there we were, my friends and me—rendered speechless by the view we had of the surrounding countryside, and slightly dumbfounded as to where the stone was hiding—until our eyes panned across these two elderly men who beckoned us over towards them.  As if fighting our way through the castle was not enough to kiss the stone, we found out then that we had to lie on our back, shimmy ourselves about a foot backwards and trust that the man holding on to our jackets would not let us slip!  My turn to kiss the stone rolled around so I sat (slightly terrified) with my back turned, grabbed onto the bars behind my head and lowered myself down.  Needless to say, I may not be much more eloquent these days but I did slightly conquer my fear of heights.

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Cork, Ireland - Blarney Castle 3

Gaining the Gift of Gab

 

 

Blarney has so much more to offer than just the castle.  We easily spent the day wandering around past a gorgeous mansion and through gardens, and by an ethereal rock close to where we saw the Witches’ Kitchen.  We walked through the Dolmen to another realm and made wishes on the Wishing Steps.  If I could make a wish now, it would be to be back in Ireland, the country that captured my heart.

 

 

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Cork, Ireland - Blarney Castle 4

The view from the top

 

 

Study Abroad Gap Year Programs in Cork, Ireland - Blarney Castle 5

A neighboring manor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was written by Vivian, who spent a semester at the University College Cork, in Ireland.

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