Blarney Castle – Kissing Royal Butt in Ireland

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, was built in 1446, it is actually the third castle to have been erected on this site. The first fort built in the tenth century was a wooden structure. Then in 1210 this was replaced the first stone structure. Later the building was demolished for use as the foundations of the imposing, dramatic castle guests see today.

You will find Blarney Castle in Co. Cork, about 15km out of Cork city. Considering it is one of the two most visited castles in Ireland (the other is Bunratty Castle) in summer you could probably just follow the steady stream of tour buses. But, if like us, you are visiting in winter, then a good map, or GPS is advised.

Touring Ireland in the off-season definitely has it’s perks, especially when visiting a tourist attraction as popular as this one. We had read numerous reviews of long waits and large crowds, but on the cold January day that we visited, we almost had the entire park and castle to ourselves. Yes, the air was bitter and damp, but completely worth it. Blarney Castle absolutely blew our mind in every way possible. To start with it is high and impressive. It rises up from the top of the rock in a way that says it means business, do not mess with the inhabitants! Even better, is the fact that guests are able to wander about in side the castle, (and underneath in the dungeons) freely exploring, imagining and touching the history within it’s 600 year old walls. Oh if those walls could speak – What stories they would have to tell! Restoration has been done to make the castle safe, but it has mostly been left in it’s original state, which allows for visitor imaginations to run wild. Given that there were so few other visitors, within minutes our seven year old son had begun imaginative role play, shooting arrows from the walls and hiding in the dark corners waiting to pounce on an enemy invader.

Get Up Close and Personal with Royalty

Of course everyone knows of the legend of the ‘Blarney Stone’, that those who kiss the stone will be blessed with the ‘gift of the gab’ to talk their way out of any situation. Did you also know that the Blarney Stone itself is also said to be half of the Scottish ‘Stone of Scone’, otherwise known as the ‘Stone of Destiny’? For centuries the Stone of Scone was associated with the crowning of Scottish kings and then, in 1296, it was taken to England and later placed under the Coronation Chair. So to smack your lips against the cold hard Blarney Stone at the top of the tower, you might as well be kissing the butt of royalty! Did we kiss it? Hmmm, well one of us was brave enough to do so… we’ll let the pictures tell the story. Continue reading

King John’s Castle, Limerick, Ireland

 

Castle4

Last week we took the children to their very first ‘real’ castle. After reading in our Lonely Planet guide that the castle has an excellent new (opened Nov 2013) education centre with interactive displays for the kids to touch and view, we chose to visit King John’s Castle in Limerick. Limerick is on the Western side of Ireland, on the River Shannon. The drive to Limerick takes two hours on the M7 motorway from Dublin, or there is an airport nearby as well. Limerick is a large city that tourist will stop at as they travel along Ireland’s West coast on the Wild Atlantic Way, but for us this time, it was just a day trip from Wexford. Continue reading