Blarney Castle and Gardens is a must see in Ireland.
My family and I just returned from our amazing trip to southern Ireland. The country was beautiful and the people were spirited and kind…and the beer was delicious. On our six-day trip, we traveled to and explored Dublin, Kilkenny, Cobh, Spike Island, the Dingle Peninsula, the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, Cork, Galway and Athlone…I may have forgotten one or two. I can’t wait to go back.
One of my favorite experiences from the whole trip was visiting Blarney Castle and Gardens. This was on the third day which was tightly scheduled and we almost opted out of this excursion because our schedule was so tight. That would’ve been a huge mistake.
So, instead of opting out, we got up at 6 A.M. so that we could get ready, eat breakfast and arrive at the castle when the gates opened at 9 A.M. Best idea ever because we were the second, third and fourth people to enter that day and it was so peaceful and the early morning lighting was absolutely perfect. Getting up that early also allowed us no waiting in line to kiss the Blarney Stone; which I heard sometimes there’s a two hour wait…that’s worse than a ride at Disney World.
Advice: GET UP EARLY and GIVE YOURSELF TWO-THREE HOURS TO EXPLORE
Things to do at the Blarney Castle and Gardens:
Kiss the Blarney Stone
Go ahead. Do it! It is in fact the castle’s claim to fame at least on the surface. Legend says that by kissing the Blarney Stone you will be blessed with the gift of gab…eloquence of conversation. There are some things to consider. First, if you don’t arrive early, you will be waiting a long time. Second, if you are afraid of heights, this may not be for you because you are backwards, upside down and head first leaning over the edge. It is safe though. There are bars and there is someone there holding you, however, if you’re not comfortable with heights, you may struggle a bit. Third, the Blarney stone is at the top of the castle and the climb up is steep and narrow. All that being said, I think it’s worth it.
Explore the Castle
This castle has its charm with its picturesque, sturdy exterior and interior spaces that feel authentic. The thick stone walls and narrow steep stone staircases and corridors show today’s tourist a glimpse of what it must have been like to live in and defend this great castle. You will see the great hall, bedrooms, “bathrooms”, towers, the murder hole, and many other rooms. There are no furnishings, but that really didn’t bother me.
Creep through the Caves
Beneath the Blarney Castle lies a series of caves. These are fun to explore, but can be a bit muddy after rain and some are a tight squeeze. My seven-year-old thought it was the best! These caves once connected to the main castle and were used as exit and entry points. Now, they’re just really interesting to explore.
Tour the Gardens:
Visit the Witch’s Tree – In the gardens of the Blarney Castle stands an amazing tree with wide-spreading branches. Below the tree is a shallow cave…just a small room really. However, it has a fireplace with a chimney protruding from the ground on the opposite side of the tree and cave entrance. The tree is rumored to once house a witch. It’s outward appearance and lower cave enclosure is reminiscent of a fairy tale setting I read as a child. Nearby is similar cave that once belonged to a hermit. It is said that people from the castle brought food down to sustain him.
Waterfalls – There are a few small waterfalls a short distance from the castle that flow into small pools at their bases. It’s peaceful and picturesque. The sound of the water from the falls was also soothing. I think it helped that we were some of the few people in the garden at the time.
Blarney House – Situated on the surrounding grounds near the Blarney Castle is the recently-restored Blarney House. Originally built in 1874, it is only open to the public during the Summer months. So, I wasn’t able to tour it, but the outside is worth the quick trek from the castle. I would love to have seen the interior.
Horses – I can’t personally attest to it, but apparently there are horses fenced in within the garden a short walk from the castle. They were not in the pasture when we passed by, but I’m sure it would be nice to see them. I bet younger children would enjoy a quick peek.
So, these were just a few highlights to explore within the Blarney Castle and Gardens. If you’ve been, please share your favorites in the comments below.