World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Blarney Stone

Article Id: WHEBN0000205136
Reproduction Date:

Title: Blarney Stone  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Answering Stone, Kiss, Irish folklore, Stones, Gift of Gab
Collection: Clíodhna, Irish Folklore, MacCarthy Dynasty, Stones, Superstitions of Ireland, Visitor Attractions in County Cork
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na Blarnan) is a block of Carboniferous limestone[1] built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.

The word blarney has come to mean "clever, flattering, or coaxing talk". Irish politician John O'Connor Power defined it this way: "Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience."[2]


  • Origins 1
  • Ritual 2
  • Legend 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


An early story involves the goddess Clíodhna.[3][4] Cormac Laidir McCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle,[5] being involved in a lawsuit, appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told McCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart "the ability to deceive without offending." MacCarthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle.[6]

View of the Blarney Stone from the ground

The proprietors of Blarney Castle list several other explanations of the origins of the stone on their website.[7] Many of these suppose that the stone had previously been in Ireland, was taken to Scotland and then returned to Ireland in 1314.[7] The stories listed include one suggesting that the stone was presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn.[7] This legend holds that this was a piece of the Stone of Scone and was installed at McCarthy's castle of Blarney.[8][9] Although colourful, this folk legend does not account for that fact that it supposes that the stone was removed from Scotland 18 years before Bannockburn, and modern analysis suggests that the stone is not related to the Stone of Scone.[1]


Person kissing the Blarney Stone

The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, according to the castle's proprietors, has been performed by "millions of people", including "world statesmen, literary giants [and] legends of the silver screen".[7] The kiss, however, is not casually achieved. To touch the stone with one's lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet's edge. This is traditionally achieved with the help of an assistant. Although the parapet is now fitted with wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars, the ritual can still trigger attacks of acrophobia, an extreme or irrational fear of heights.

Kissing the stone in 1897, before the safeguards were installed.

Before the safeguards were installed, the kiss was performed with real risk to life and limb, as participants were grasped by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height.[10] In the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatisation "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" (first broadcast on 18 March 1946), a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. Holmes' investigation reveals this as a murder, the man's boots having been surreptitiously greased before the attempt.

William Henry Hurlbert wrote in 1888 that the legend of the stone seemed to be less than a hundred years old at that time, suggesting the tradition began late in the 18th century.[11] The legend of the Blarney stone was described in A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue by Francis Grose, printed 1785.[12]


It is claimed that the synonymy of "blarney" with "empty flattery" or "beguiling talk" derives from one of two sources. One story involves the goddess Clíodhna and Cormac Laidir MacCarthy (see "Origins" above). Another legend suggests that Queen Elizabeth I requested Cormac Teige McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, be deprived of his traditional land rights. Cormac travelled to see the queen, but was certain he would not persuade her to change her mind as he wasn't an effective speaker. He met an old woman on the way who told him that anyone who kissed a particular stone in Blarney Castle would be given the gift of eloquent speech. Cormac went on to persuade the queen that he should not be deprived of his land.[13]

'Tis there's the stone that whoever kisses

He never misses to grow eloquent;

'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,

Or become a member of Parliament.

"A noble spouter he'll sure turn out, or

An out and outer to be let alone;

Don't try to hinder him, or to bewilder him,

For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone."

Echoing the supposed power of the stone, an Irish bard of the early 19th century, Francis Sylvester Mahony, added a number of (humorous) lines to Richard Alfred Millikin's "The Groves of Blarney" (right).

According to tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building is a missing piece of the Blarney Stone.[15] How this was determined is unknown.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mystery of Blarney Stone's heritage finally solved". The Guardian. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  2. ^ 'Irish Wit and Humour', John O'Connor Power, Time, 1890, p. 178.
  3. ^ James MacKillop, A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford. pp. 43–44, 91
  4. ^ Patricia Monaghan, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. New York: Facts On File. 2004. pp. 48, 91
  5. ^ Irish Pedigrees: MacCarthy, Lords of Muskry #119
  6. ^ Richard Marsh, Elan Penn, Frank McCourt, The Legends & Lands of Ireland. Penn Publishing. pp. 107–110
  7. ^ a b c d "The Blarney Stone". Blarney Castle website. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  8. ^ Castleden, Rodney (2006). Castles of the celtic lands: the historic castles of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Barnes & Noble. p. 26.  
  9. ^ Varner, Gary R. (2004). Menhirs, dolmen, and circles of stone: the folklore and magic of sacred stone. Algora Publishing. p. 61.  
  10. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 84. 
  11. ^ Hurlbert, William Henry (1888). Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin. p. 232. 
  12. ^ Grose, Francis "A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue" S. Hooper, London, 1785. Retrieved 23 December 2010
  13. ^ "Irish Blessings - Legend of the Blarney Stone". 
  14. ^ "Fun stories". Blarney Castle website. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  15. ^ Martin, Cindy (March–April 1987). "The Blarney Texas Tech?" (pdf). Texas Techsan (Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech Alumni Association). p. 25. , also cited in
    "Blarney Stone". Texas Tech University. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  16. ^ Ritz, Jennifer. "This is Texas Tech" (pdf). Texas Techsan Magazine (Texas Tech Alumni Association): 7. 

Further reading

  • Samuel, Mark; Hamlyn, Kate (2007). Blarney Castle: Its History, Development and Purpose.  

External links

  • Official Website (Blarney Castle)
  • Photos and Description

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.