Discover Blarney Castle on a driver-guided private tour of Ireland.
Blarney Castle is a rugged 15th-century tower within beautiful grounds. Over the years, millions of people have visited the castle, one of Ireland's most significant attractions.
However, for most visitors, the main attraction is an opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. Set high in the battlements, it is a block of limestone some 4ft by 1ft, which is said to bestow those who kiss it with the gift of eloquence.
Stay at Hayfield Manor Hotel and take the short drive over to Blarney Castle and kiss the stone before the crowds arrive. Our driver-guides will manage your days carefully of your Private Guided Tour of Ireland.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
What is all this myth about the Blarney Stone?
Today Blarney is such a welcoming place, a happy spot in the emerald Isle. However, the stronghold has not always welcomed visitors; in fact, the stone has held an altogether different welcome for some. The stone's opening is called a machicolation, a gap in the floor through which defenders would pour boiling oil onto attackers below.
So, what is 'blarney,' and how did the stone come to be associated with the power of eloquence? The definition of blarney means flattery or clever speech, which contains gentle humour and wit. A story to illustrate this: the builder of Blarney Castle, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, was involved in a lawsuit. Uncertain of his speaking abilities, he appealed to the goddess Cliodhna for assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he passed on his way to court. He did so, and such was his eloquence that he won his case. MacCarthy then incorporated the rock into the parapet of the castle.
We'll make sure that you, too, get to kiss the Blarney Stone on your visit to the castle. You'll also learn that the Blarney Stone is only one of this famous castle's many attractions.
A brief history of Blarney Castle
A thousand years old
The castle we see today is the third to built on this site. In the 10th century, the first was a wooden structure replaced almost 200 years later using stone. In approximately 1400, the castle was demolished and replaced by Dermot McCarthy in 1446 with the keep we see today.
Load of Blarney
During her long reign (1558 – 1603), Queen Elizabeth I commanded The Earl of Leicester to take possession of Blarney Castle from McCarthy. Negotiations were constantly delayed by McCarthy's tactic of suggesting a banquet or celebration. The Queens requests for progress reports were met with long reports and reasons why little or no progress had been made. Her growing frustration with the situation led to her describing the reports as a 'load of blarney.'
Oliver Cromwell besieged Blarney during his invasion of Ireland. The attackers finally gained entry by smashing through the tower walls. Inside they found only two elderly retainers with everyone else having escaped through the three passages leading from Badger's Cave taking the gold plate with them. One of the tunnels led to the lake where it was said the gold had been thrown for safekeeping. The estate was sold to a new owner who spent a fortune attempting to drain the lake and recover the gold. Unfortunately, the gold was never found.
In 1688, the castle was sold to Sir James St John Jefferies, the Governor of Cork. At the beginning of the 18th century, it passed to his son, who built a Georgian gothic house against the castle's keep. It was destroyed by fire, but you see the ruins still today; they are part of the gardens ‘romantic ruins’.
A new owner through marriage, that of Lady Colthurst, decided to build a new castle in Scottish baronial style just south of the old keep. This was completed in 1874 and has been the family home ever since.
Touring and accommodation
After your adventures in Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, Waterford and Kilkenny, the obvious next stop is Cork. Blarney Castle is just six miles from Cork and can be a combined visit with the delightful fishing village of Kinsale, with brightly coloured buildings huddled together. It has become the culinary capital of Ireland, with wonderful cafes, restaurants and bars. There are plenty of independent shops and a lovely coastal aspect to enjoy. Just a few miles, the other side of Cork is the Old Middleton Distillery. For those of you that like the odd Irish Whiskey, you may like to stop for a tasting.
Our Recommended hotel in the region is Hayfield Manor Hotel, an elegant Georgian style mansion in Cork City. The hotel has three restaurants, a spa, pool and gardens.
Kiss the Blarney Stone!
Ireland's Most Famous Castle
- Private Guided Tours Available
- Sixty Acres of Gardens
- Kiss the Blarney Stone
- Stay at Hayfield Manor Hotel
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK and EU office based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.