Country Cork Ireland

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County Cork, Ireland “There is a stone there, that whoever kisses, Oh! he never misses to grow eloquent” and of course, that is the Blarney Stone. According to the Irish, when you kiss the Blarney Stone you receive the “Gift of Gab” – and I’m sure we all know someone who has definitely kissed that Blarney Stone. A national landmark, Blarney Castle is home to the famous “blarney stone” which attracts millions of visitors every year. The stone is at the very top of the castle tower and according to legend, it was the “Fatal Stone” for Kings - similar to Harry Potter’s sorting hat. It takes a brave person to kiss this stone – with your back to the wall, crouch low on your haunches and grab hold of the iron railing then bend your head backwards, trying not to look down to the ground way below, and place your lips firmly on the ice-cold slab … surely you deserve the “gift of the gab”! Don’t think about the millions of lips before yours that have kissed the very spot you are about to … JUST DO IT!. The Castle resides in spectacular gardens and its true magic is evident if you take the time to explore. The grounds are beautiful and magical, and you may be lucky enough to spot ghosts of salmon leaping in the river or the enchanted cows walking from the depths of the lake to graze in the meadows. As you explore, let your imagination run wild - Badgers Cave, as legend would have you believe, has 3 passages leading to Cork; Evil lurks beneath the tower house’s labyrinth of passages and chambers which are sadly no longer accessible - but imagine all the skullduggery back in the day; You can guess who was imprisoned in The Witches Stone, and fortunately, she only escapes the stone after dark, by which time, Castle visitors are long gone; The Witch’s Kitchen was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers and folk say that if you get there early enough in the morning, you will see the dying embers of a fire lit every night by the Witch … mmm! Rock Castle is a mystical place where majestic trees crowd round an ancient druidic settlement, and, if you walk backwards down and back up the Wishing Steps, with eyes closed and without stopping, your wish will come true – quite a feat if you ask me! The “Poison Garden” with its cage-like structures encapsulating toxic plants and the Fern Garden & Ice House are captivating to. In spring, the brilliant green gardens come alive with thousands of brightly colored flowering bulbs and azaleas – a dazzling sight.  Back to reality … the Blarney Woollen Mill, a water-powered mill, produces famous tweeds and woolens which will definitely tempt you. Relax in the stable-yard and café before visiting the Court Exhibition Rooms and browsing the Souvenir shop where you will find some wonderful items and mementos of your trip to Blarney. The locals come out in full force to occupy the square when the weather is good, so join in the festivities – Sláinte (cheers). This is a magical, mystical, legendary place to visit and explore. Cork is a mere 15 minutes away, with plenty to see and do, but that’s another adventure for another post from this travel blogger. Ireland is where everyone takes it slow, so slow yourself down and be captured by its magic