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Why on earth do people travel all the way to Blarney Castle, climb way up steep, narrow and slippery steps just to kiss the stone? What is the story behind all this nonsense?
Just to clarify, the stone is not in the ground. It is a block of bluestone embedded into the wall situated right at the top of a tower of an old Irish castle.
To get there you must make a long climb holding on to nothing but a rope.
The kissing act is not for the faint of heart. It must be done laying down on your back and bending backwards while gripping onto two bars that are behind your head. You are basically dangling over a gaping hole. Yes, thank goodness, there is a man helping you who grabs onto you and shoves you close enough to kiss the stone. Then you are hauled upright and…done!
The Gift of Gab
The legend has it that if you give the Blarney Stone a smooch, you will acquire the gift of eloquence and never be at a loss for words. And so people come from all over the globe to acquire the storytelling prowess, or as the Irish like to say, the gift of gab.
This Is All Blarney
Blarney Castle was constructed by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster in 1446. In 1586, Queen Elizabeth I commissioned the Earl of Leicester to take the land from the McCarthy Clan, yet the negotiations were constantly delayed and her demands were met by extensive elaborations on why something could not be done or may be done in an unspecified future, not immediately, and generally not without some modifications. This frustrated the Queen, who is believed to have contributed the world “blarney” to our dictionary by saying: “This is all blarney, what he says he never means.”
Does It Work?
So you might ask: does it work?
Winston Churchill is among some of the notable figures who kissed the stone. Who is to say that the kiss did not give Churchill some eloquence? He went on to become the British Prime Minister in 1940 and earn a reputation as one of the world’s greatest speakers. His speeches rallied a nation under relentless Nazi attacks during World War II.
Few people know that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.” (“The Nobel Prize in Literature 1953”. Nobleprize.org)
Did It Work for Me?
I think that kissing the Blarney Stone added just a little extra confidence in my own persuading abilities and whenever I get a bit nervous when I am about to speak in front of people, I think that maybe I picked up some Irish luck as well.