Blarney Castle | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Blarney Castle

Sarah Roller

18 Feb 2021

About Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is a Medieval castle and stronghold in County Cork, Ireland. It is most famous for being the home of the Blarney Stone, which according to folklore, bestows the gift of the flattery and eloquence on those who kiss the stone.

History of Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is believed to date back to around 1200, when a stone fortification was first built on the site. This was destroyed in 1446, and rebuilt by Cormac Láidir MacCarthy, King of Munster, shortly afterward. Legend has it that prior to this, 4,000 Munster men were sent to help Robert the Bruce fight the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. In repayment, the Stone of Scone was split in half and sent to Blarney Castle in gratitude, where it was incorporated into the battlements.

The castle was beseiged, and later captured by English Parliamentarian forces in 1646, although it was later restored to the new Earl of Clancarty, Donough MacCarty. However, Blarney Castle was consficated from the 4th Earl of Clancarty by William of Orange, and the castle proceeded to change hands multiple times after that. It was eventually purchased by the governor of Cork City, Sir James St John Jefferyes in 1688.

The Jefferyes family built a mansion nearby the keep of the ruined castle, and their descendants still own the site today.

Blarney Castle today

Most visitors to the Castle today go for the Blarney Stone, which has helped make it one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. There’s a variety of myths and legends about its origins: the association with the name Blarney with the so called gift of the gab was first made by Elizabeth I out of frustration at Lord Blarney’s ability to talk a lot without saying much. To kiss the stone, you have to lean backwards over a long drop: best not think about the germs on there!

‘Castle’ is a bit of a stretch – the remnants of the castle are the 16th century tower which is worth visiting. The gardens remain a highlight: the poison garden is sure to fascinate kids and adults alike and there’s a wide variety of horticultural delights to explore, including fern houses, tropical gardens, an arboretum and ice house.

Getting to Blarney Castle

The village of Blarney is roughly 8km north west of the city of Cork, and the journey takes about 15 minutes by car: the village (and castle) lie just off the N20. From Dublin, the journey takes 3-4 hours depending on traffic.

The 215 bus from Cork runs to Blarney Village semi-regularly, and package day trips from Dublin and Cork are also readily available. The nearest train station is Cork Kent.