When I kissed the Blarney Stone - Blarney Castle, Ireland
This is a short blog from 2007, when we toured Ireland in search of pots of gold, an authentic Guinness and to establish why "shamrock" is just a fancy name for clover.
One sunny day, we journeyed just outside Cork, on the southern coast, in search of the mythical and kissable Blarney Stone...
If you've never kissed the Blarney Stone, may I suggest you need more than a pair of puckered lips and your best chat up line with you when you do finally get to it. You need a head for heights and a willingness to let a sadistic Irish madman dangle you over the edge of a 200 foot battlement of a derelict castle. Why?
Blarney Castle is a big draw for fat walleted Americans, keen to taste everything Irish in search of their forefathers, judging by the drawl of most of the tourists around us. It is a ruin, and the entrance fee includes kissing the stone. I wonder if you'd requested entry minus the infamous rocky smooch they'd give you a discount? I doubt it.
The castle itself is quite small. In fact, it is nothing more than a tall keep than a grand residence. As mentioned before, it is a ruin, and you walk through it in a prescribed route, taking you higher and higher all the time tempting you further by the "this way to the Blarney Stone" signs like some siren leading you mesmerically off a cliff. Up and up you are led through increasingly smaller spiral staircases until you finally reach the battlements and the infamous Blarney Stone.
The stone has been set into the castle since 1446 and legend has it that the kisser becomes endowed with the "gift of the gab", meaning greater eloquence or skill at flattery. Flattery "sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit." to be precise. Being kissed by strangers from all walks of life for over 550 years, I could only imagine it would be sweetened by layers of old lipstick and flavoured by crusty saliva. Like snogging the worlds oldest woman who hadn't washed since her home help ran off with the bloke next door. Nice.
Up to this point, those not in the know will not be aware that the Blarney Stone needs to be kissed in a certain way, that is you must be lying on your back and kiss the stone vertically with your head tilted back. I'm sure the Irish, with their Guinness, Baileys and whiskey infused sense of humour, probably added this "myth" in recent years, to ensure maximum humiliation for those contorted enough to manage this. Worst of all and the reason you have to be "dangled" by some murderous looking Irishman is that the stone is actually part of the battlement, and sits in a wall beyond a one foot slit hanging over the edge of the building. In fact the only way to kiss it is to lie back and tilt your head so that a) you don't have to look down as half your body is now suspended over the gap and b) the stone is too low to snog it facing forward because it's too far out of reach to prevent toppling to your pouty doom.
Would it really have been too much trouble to have put it, say on the floor on an easily reachable plinth? Surely that would've been easier 550 years ago? I got the feeling I was quickly becoming a statistic in Ireland's biggest and most played practical joke.
It didn't stop me feeling empty after my snog. I've never paid for those sort of services before and certainly not with something that had been tongued by several thousand Americans in the same day. The stone was unfeeling and cold. She took my money and gave me what I desired but with little emotion and certainly with no reciprocal pleasure. I felt cheap. Used. The stone was a tart, and the man roughly dangling you over the edge and urging you to "tilt back your head and kiss it, goddammit" was her pimp. Nasty.