Visitors flock to the ruined 15th-century Blarney Castle to bend over backwards from the battlements and lay their lips on the famous Blarney Stone. According to local legend, the stone, which is embedded high in the castle walls, imparts those who kiss it with the “gift of the gab,” making them more eloquent, articulate, and convincing.
The Blarney Stone is lodged high in the castle walls. While the act of kissing it may appear perilous—visitors must lay down and lean their head backwards over the edge of an elevated walkway—it is safe. There’s a guard rail to hold on to and an attendant on hand.
Blarney Castle is a common stop on bus tours from Cork city. A day tour from Dublin or Killarney will typically include stops at Cork city attractions, such as the English Market, and at other sights en route, such as the ruins of the Celtic cathedral at the Rock of Cashel (aka St. Patrick’s Rock) in Tipperary or the seaside town of Cobh. The Blarney Stone can also be visited as part of organized multi-day tours that cover large parts of the west and south of Ireland, including Galway and County Cork.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If you are afraid of heights, kissing the Blarney Stone may not be for you, as there is a long drop below it.
- The stone is located on the castle’s roofless battlements, where visitors are exposed to the elements. Bring rain gear and sunscreen so you aren’t caught off guard by the weather.
- The Blarney Stone is only accessible via a steep, spiral staircase.
How to Get There
Blarney Castle is just 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Cork city center. The 215 bus departs from Cork bus station and stops in the village of Blarney, which is less than five minutes’ walk from the castle.
When to Get There
During peak season (May–September), lines form for the Blarney Stone and you can expect to wait, though the attractive views of the Irish countryside from the upper parts of the castle help pass the time. Come first thing in the morning when the wait is shortest.
Exploring Blarney Castle and Gardens
Though the stone is the star attraction at Blarney Castle, there’s a lot more to see at the estate. Explore the evocative ruins, including the underground dungeons, and the surrounding grounds, where you’ll find a lake, a poison garden, woods, caves, and several eye-catching rock formations and ceremonial stone structures in an area known as Rock Close.