Located in Blarney Village, about 8 km northwest from Cork City in the south of Ireland, you will find the Blarney Castle and Gardens. Built by Cormac Laidir, Lord of Muskerry. It started off as a wooden structure built in the tenth century, then was replaced by a stone structure in 1210 A.D. After that was demolished, it was resurrected in 1446. Blarney Castle is the third structure to be built on this site.
We arrived at the nearly vacant Blarney Castle at around 10am on a Sunday. This was a great time to visit as there weren’t a lot of people walking around the expansive grounds.
It cost €18 per adult and we each received a little map and entry ticket.
Things to do at Blarney Castle & Gardens
1. Cross the bridge by River Martin
2. See The Seven Sisters
Picture by Aerial Photography
Legend tells of a famous King of Munster who once ruled these lands. He had seven daughters and two sons. His rival was also a powerful clan chief and the time came when the king had to defend his lands. One fateful day the army rode out to battle with the king and his two sons at the head of it. Although victorious, it came at a great cost, as both sons were killed in the fighting. The army marched back to the castle, on route passing the ancient druid’s stone circle that had stood for millennia. The king dispatched a contingent of men to the sacred site and in his grief he instructed them to push over two of the nine standing stones. This would forever commemorate his two fallen sons. The seven sisters remain standing to this day.
3. See the Fern Garden and Waterfall
In the heart of the castle gardens you will find a limestone cliff overlooking ferns and a dramatic waterfall on one side to add to the ambience. There are over 80 varieties of ferns including a 5m high Dicksonia antarctica which happens to be the tallest of its kind in ireland.
4. The Rock Close and Water Garden
If you follow this trail, it will lead you through a leafy canopy of ancient yew and oak trees where you will find two flowing waterfalls. It’s a mystical place where you will find the “wishing steps” which the story has it, if you walk down these backwards with your eyes shut, all your wishes will come true.
5. Learn about poisonous plants at the Poison Garden
Hidden behind the castle, you will find the infamous poison garden with a collection of poisonous plants from around the world including the Wolfsbane and the Mandrake from Harry Potter’s there is Information about their toxicity, traditional and modern day uses.
5. Go to the top of the castle
The stairs in the castle are steep, windy, slippery and narrow. Some sections have a rope that you can grab, but most do not so you need to be very careful. I’m not quite sure if I’d want my child to do this but it’s all up to the parent.
6. Kiss the Blarney Stone
For over 200 years people from all over the world have kissed the Blarney Stone with the hope of gaining the gift of eloquence. To kiss the Blarney Stone, you actually have to lean backwards and grab the iron railing. There is a man there to hold you and keep the line moving.
7. The magnificent views
From the top of the castle you can take in breathtaking views of over 60 acres of sprawling parklands which includes gardens, avenues, arboretums and waterways.
8. Visit the Stable Yard
It used to be a stable yard now it’s been turned into a Café but you can still walk through the stables or visit the horses graveyard on the property.
9. Get inside a cave
According to legend, three passages lead away from Badger’s Cave: one to Cork, one to Kerry, and one to the lake at the edge of the property. The castle garrison used this cave to escape from Cromwell’s general, Lord Broghill, in 1646.
10. Visit the Blarney House
Just 200 yards south of the castle, this family home was built in 1874 and it is beautifully situated overlooking Blarney Lake. It contains a fine collection of early furniture, family portraits, tapestries and works of art.
It was an unexpectedly great yet cold morning. I did not expect Blarney Castle to be so captivating and full of amazing walking trails and breathtaking views.
Don’t forget that accidents and mishaps are often a part of traveling abroad, and so you shouldn’t forget to cover yourself and your belongings for any eventuality. I always choose World Nomads, because you can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.