Historical Places, Travelling and Poking About

Things I’d never do again: Blarney Castle Hysteria

May 2, 2015

The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-2

When I saw that this month’s Travel Link up was “things you’d never do again” only one thing sprung to mind. I knew this one would be easy: The Blarney Stone. Yep. Ireland’s favourite yap-inducing masonry is on my piss list. Let’s all snuggle in and I can tell the story properly.

A bloody long time ago I visited Ireland with my husband. We were driving around the island in a rental car, intending to end up on the west coast for a wedding. On the second day (or first full day) we drove from Dublin to Cork and into Blarney. Blarney is a small town with a castle. So far so good in the book of Frankie. It is said that this castle contains one stone, that once kissed, will bestow the gift of the gab upon the kisser. A kind of eloquent gab, even. If you’ve ever met Irish people you know they’re lively and charming and entertaining as all hell. Shy, awkward folks would oftentimes like a piece of this action. And that is how a tourism industry sprung up surrounding the Blarney stone. It doesn’t help that some of the world’s best orators, such as Winston Churchill, have been to kiss this hallowed stone.

So, when my husband Mark decided he wanted to go I was sweet with the idea. I bloody love castles and this seemed just whimsical enough to rock my little Frankie world. How wrong I was. I didn’t bother to do any further research on this Blarney stone, I just accepted the fact that Mark knew which road to take to get there, and the rest would sort itself out as it usually does.

When we first rocked up to Blarney Castle, trying to gain admittance we found that they don’t accept card payments and that we’d need cash. I must stress that this was many years ago and I have no idea what their card situation is now. We had to drive back to the village to get cash from an ATM, and as we tried to pull into a carpark in the village centre some other muppet drove straight into us, eager to gain our carpark for himself. The police were right there. It was the centre of a small village, where else would they be? Well, our car crasher and the police officer on duty were great mates from long ago. Mr Driver tried to blame us. Just a small point: he crashed into the side of our car. Unless we were travelling at high speed sideways in a circular motion so as not to bang into other parked cars, this prick was an outrageously lying human embodiment of hemorrhoids. A pain in the arse. Thankfully we had insurance that covered it and the car only suffered superficial damage, so we could carry on driving.

The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-Frankie The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-Chair The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-Mark

When we finally got back to the castle we began our ascent immediately. What did we learn? They accepted card payment in the gift shop, but not the ticket office. Blood boiling.

We did calm down. It’s a beautiful old castle. Rickety, rambling and quaint. We climbed around inside and explored every room. I soon forgot about the actual Blarney Stone, until, of course, we reached the top. There, a small aged man who was clearly 115 if he was a bloody day, sat on a rock overhanging the edge of the castle. He was collecting gold coin tips for pretending to be some kind of safety feature installed to stop idiotic tourists from toppling over backwards to their deaths.

The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-Man-Stone

The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-From-Below

This is what that bloody stone looks like from below.

Let me explain: The blarney stone is hundreds of thousands of feet about the surface of the earth. You have to lean over backwards to try and kiss the stone in an upside down position. Don’t worry, if you slip a few feeble, rusting iron bars are sitting between you and certain death. The old leprechaun was also promising to catch you if you fell. Or at least to ensure that your death certificate was filled in correctly.

I did not sign up for this. I haven’t even gotten into the state of the stone. It’s smoother than the rest of the battlement, worn down and wildly discoloured from years of foreign spittle and saliva plastering it in desperate, gravity defying puckering motion. It’s now as black as Marilyn Monroe’s handprints in Hollywood. Both have been darkened by the grime deposited by many years of flustered human contact, but no one would even consider putting their mouth onto the ground anywhere near the hand prints. It’s the sluttiest wall in the western world, why on earth are we all lining up to snog it? Disgusting.

I knew this wasn’t for me, so I politely declined the kiss. Mark, however, was still lining up with the intention of dangling into the jaws of stone pecking death. It’s no wonder this mouth-to-stone business is guaranteed to give you a more loquacious outlook on life; you’re bound to scream your fucking tits off, bellowing all the words you never quite realised you knew, as you hurtle at high speed towards the unforgiving grass below. There was no way in hell I was returning to New Zealand with the crumpled corpse of the man I loved squished into a compressed shape with his head poking up between his ankles.

The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-sign The_Mayfairy-Blarney-Castle-1

My bottom lip began to tremble. I stamped my foot. Panic welled up inside me. I tearfully commanded Mark to leave the battlement immediately and forbade him from even further considering kissing that damn stone. “I don’t want you to diiiiiiiiiie!” I wailed, distressed.

He listened to me. If he hadn’t I’m pretty sure I would have stood there and sobbed openly, causing a scene. Just quietly, he may have been happy for the out.

What did I learn? Always investigate your tourist attraction before you turn up. I don’t deal well with spontaneity or surprise of any kind. If I had known what the Blarney Stone actually was before arriving there I could have mentally prepared myself for it. I could have figuratively walked myself through a thousand plummeting deaths and maybe found a mindset where upside down smooching was acceptable. This was not possible at the last minute on top of a castle mid-panic attack. If I had done my research I may have even known the money situation and avoided our little car scraping. Never again.

One positive did come from this though: Mark didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone. If you’ve ever met my husband you know that the last thing he needs is more yap. My tearful tantrum likely saved the world from a hurricane of garrulous hot air sweeping across the European continent and even through the Americas and back to Australasia. You can thank me at your leisure.

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  • Ohhhhh dear, it sounds like you had a bit of a nightmare there! I really don’t deal with heights so even reading this post has been a bit much for me!!

    Lauren xx | The Lifestyle Diaries

    • I’m not great with heights, but I can suck it up and just deal. It’s the dangling upside down that gets me πŸ˜‰

  • More yap for Mark?? Are you sure he hasn’t already kissed it in a past life…

    • You know those little Garfield toys with suction cups on the paws that people stick to car windows? Well, I have a theory that Mark was born with suction cups for lips and spent the first six months of his life attached to that damn Blarney Stone πŸ˜‰

  • So glad I’m not the only one who was disappointed by the Blarney! I have the world’s most unflattering picture somewhere of me attempting to kiss the damned thing. I’m certain it’ll come back to bite me with some gross disease that makes your lips droop later in life… Your husband should be grateful you had a panic attack at the thought of him doing that!

    • Ugh it’s just such a gross stone. My mother thought I was an idiot for not knowing what it was. I think I thought it was gonna be just a regular easy access rock.

  • I hate it when an attraction doesn’t turn out to be what is implied it should… what a nightmare day!

    • hehe, I still liked the castle. I just don’t need to dangle from it! πŸ˜€

  • I did kiss the stone and the girl that was on the same bus tour as me that was meant to be taking my picture messed up and put her finger over the lens!

    • Oh god that’s horrific. I’m surprised they don’t have camera set up above it taking photos and selling the tourists an overpriced print

      • They did actually but I was like nahhh my little point and shoot will do but alas I was wrong!

  • I had contemplated visiting the Blarney Stone a go (I do most of my talking telepathically) but (like you) was turned off by the idea of swapping ancient spit with unknown persons. The possibility of death didn’t exactly win me over either. At least you enjoyed the castle! Would you recommend making the trip to explore it? I’m still cracking up at how that fool thought he could blame you for the accident. What did his copper chum say about it?

    • Hehe, we just swapped all the details necessary and let the rental car’s insurance deal with the “he said she said” aspect of it. If you like castles it’s a beautiful old castle, with gardens and everything.

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Dangling upside down and kissing a grimy stone at a castle?! Wait – this sounds like the kind of random haphazard nonsensical dreams I have all the time – except you’ve actually lived through this charade!! I’d have thrown a serious tantrum too especially if a lying loon had tried to kill me with his car the same day – what an ordeal!

    • Yeah, it was quite a day. I’m not great at spontaneity so it shook me πŸ˜‰

  • It’s funny when everyone wants to touch or kiss something for luck that lots of other randomers have been touching!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • Oh my where do I start, sounds like quite the adventure for all the wrong reasons. I really hate heights too if I am high enough that I can’t see ground strangely I am fine but if I can see the height, ground, people, death not so great. Why do people feel the need to kiss things to get luck, the germs yuck. Glad you survived and now see the funny side Lucy x

    • Yeah, I think heights get trickier for me the older I get!

  • I survived (at a much younger age than now) — I talk too much. The exposure to foreign spittle has beefed up my immune system immensely. πŸ˜‰

  • Hahahaha, this was so dangerous to read at work. I spluttered and snorted the whole way through. What a brilliant story and I’m so pleased your yapper of a husband didn’t end up kissing the grimy germ-ridden stone in the end!

    Polly xx

    • Hehe, thanks. I’m also happy he didn’t – crying in public is never a good look x

  • adales8

    Sam has a deathly fear of heights so there’s no way he’d even entertain the possibility. I would but I’m okay with tall things and I’ve also dropped skittles on the ground and still eaten them. Don’t judge me. x

    • haha, pretty sure that wall doesn’t taste like skittles! πŸ˜‰

  • Today I learnt that the Blarney Stone is a real thing/tourist attraction (Albeit apparently not a very good one) and not just something Irish people say!

    • Haha. I wasn’t the only one pretty much in the dark about the whole thing then!

  • Hahah! This post had me giggling!
    Dangling upside down to snog a stone? Why would anyone in their right mind find that appealing?

    • Thank you. Exactly. It’s a mucky old stone! πŸ˜‰

  • On our first trip to Ireland together we went to Blarney to shop in their Woolen Mills but we skipped the castle entirely, and thus the stone. I’m kind of sad we didn’t get to roam around the grounds because I understand they’re beautiful but you couldn’t pay me to kiss that damn rock. My understanding is that it’s been pissed and spit on probably as many times as it has been kissed. No thanks.

    • Exactly. Beautiful castle and and grounds, absolutely no need to kiss the damn stone.