There are those who think that you come to Blarney Castle only to see the Stone. But most leave knowing that the Blarney Stone is only a part of our attraction. Scoll down and have a look at the other interesting things to see and do while you are with us!
When Cromwell's general, Lord Broghill, besieged the castle, he fired down from Card Hill above the lake and broke the tower walls. Yet when he entered the castle, he found only two trusty old retainers. The main garrison had fled through this cave Badgers Cave. All had gone as well as the gold plate that Broghill expected to claim. Legend tells us there are three passages to find in the darkness beyond - one to Cork, one to the lake, and one all the way to Kerry. But this being Blarney, the passages may be as hard to find as the gold...
Against the east wall of the Castle, you can see the ruins of a late eighteenth century Gothic mansion, known as 'the Court', and built in 1739 by the Jeffereys, who bought the Castle in 1703, but found it rather uncomfortable to live in. It was a grand residence, three storeys high, with ranges of casement windows facing east, and was a thriving and lively country house through the latter part of the eighteenth century. Sadly it was destroyed by fire in 1820 and all remaining good building materials were sold off. There were rumours that this was to prevent the son from inheriting it. But they've always loved a good story round here...
Beneath the tower house that we know as Blarney Castle, you will find a labyrinth of underground passages and chambers, dating from different periods in the Castle history. Now mostly inaccessible, many are beyond the most intrepid explorer. If you do venture within, you will find the chambers of what is believed to have been the Castle prison. If you climb the left-hand of the parallel staircases, you will find the chamber that some say housed the Castle well. The well's vital role in times of siege would have ensured it considerable protection. A nowadays-inaccessible tunnel, over 16 metres long, connects this chamber to a small cave in the rock - possibly an attempt to force entry by a besieging army.
The Witch Stone
It takes little imagination to see who is imprisoned here. The Witch of Blarney has been with us since the dawn of time. Some say it was she who first told MacCarthy of the power of the Blarney Stone. Fortunately for visitors, she only escapes the witch stone after nightfall - and we close at dusk.
Visitors to Blarney Castle should bring a picnic. The true magic of the location is revealed to those who venture out into the numerous walks around the Estate.
The Battlements View
There's not just the Stone to make the climb to the battlements worthwhile. In 1837, Samuel Lewis wrote that the top of the Castle commands a very fine view over a rich undulating tract... on the east is the Comane bog, many years since an impenetrable wilderness, and the last receptacle for wolves in this part of the country: that river, which takes its name from its serpentine course, flows through the bog and joins the river Blarney under the walls of the castle...
The Stone from Below
The Blarney Stone is directly above you. The prize for kissing it has always been a great one but in the past, it was a dangerous challenge. Today, the introduction of solid iron bars for protection ensures that you need only flirt with eternity.
Within Rock Close, you come across an archway of limestone rocks. Step through and you find yourself on the Wishing Steps. If you can walk down and back up these steps with your eyes closed - some demand that this be done walking backwards - and without stopping for one moment to think of anything other than a wish, then that wish will come true within a year. Some say that the granting of this wish is the witch's way of paying for her firewood. We say only that the steps can be slippery and that we take no responsibility.
We believe that this was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers across the mists of time. If you arrive early enough in the morning, you will still see the dying embers of a fire. This is lit every night by the Blarney Castle witch, as she fights to stop shivering on her nocturnal escape from the Witch Stone.
Legend tells us that the treasure of the MacCarthys was thrown into the depths of the Lake. Despite one of the ancestors of the current owner having almost drained the lake in the search, we cannot confirm the truth of this. But then if we could, we'd hardly be telling you now, would we?
The North Wall
Blarney Castle sits directly on an eight-metre cliff of rock, which formed the quarry for building the castle. The seam you can see on the right-hand side of the wall shows that the Castle was built in two stages, the right-hand part being a tall thin tower. The casemented oriel window projects out from the Earl's Bedchamber and sets Blarney a cut above the everyday Irish castle. But what projects from the three large square holes in the wall is best left unsaid. These are the outlets for the garderobes, and before you ask for a translation, note that these were always built downwind. It was not all cold winds and bleak stonework. Originally, these walls would have been whitewashed.
The grounds of Blarney Castle are magical acres in a timeless Ireland. What you see may depend on how hard you look and how willing your eyes are to see. Ghosts of salmon can be seen leaping in the Martin River for ghosts of flies. And they say that at times of impending danger, a herd of enchanted cows walks from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the Castle. We've never seen them but here's a picture of the meadow.
Time Passes Slowly...
This is Blarney. This is Ireland. Don't be in such a hurry to see things.