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Spend the day at Blarney Castle by exploring the walking paths around the beautiful grounds, wandering through the castle, and kissing that Blarney Stone…if you dare!
BLOG POST NOTE: Recently I took a trip to Ireland with my fabulous sister-in-law Beth and my niece Dayna. Beth has graciously written this post on Visiting Blarney Castle for Food, Folks and Fun.
Originally, we planned on staying at Blarney Castle for only 2-3 hours, tops. This was a huge underestimation on our part. We thought we’d quickly go kiss the stone, take some pictures and then head off to our next destination. Instead, we found you can easily spend upwards of 4 hours exploring Blarney Castle and the castle grounds. So, our tip would be to make a day out of this attraction!
Dayna and I had seen the Blarney Stone in a travel book and decided that kissing it was as Irish as it got, so we had to do it. We did our best to get Jillian on board with the idea of hanging upside down 37 feet in the air while putting her mouth on something that thousands of tourist’s lips have touched, but she gave us a hard pass on this activity. Jillian decided to stroll the grounds and take some pictures while we began our 127-stair ascent to the top of the castle.
We arrived at the queue for climbing Blarney castle around 11:00 AM. The line of people started at the entrance of the castle. It was a very slow-moving line, which was fine as we found ourselves chatting with a group from back East and enjoying reminiscing about our time living there.
BLARNEY CASTLE TRAVEL TIP: Get to Blarney Castle right when it opens at 9:00 AM to avoid long lines at ticketing and long lines to kiss the Blarney Stone.
We eventually found ourselves inside the tight, winding, castle staircase. The previous occupants of this castle must have been leprechauns, as our 5’7” & 5’8” frames were quite cramped in parts of this stairwell! Now, I don’t consider myself claustrophobic but this did have me feeling uncomfortable. As for Dayna, who does not like tight spaces, she was really not loving this! If the line were moving faster, I think we would have been fine, but not knowing how long we were going to be in the teeny tiny stairwell, or how close to the top we were, ended up being too much for us. Luckily for us, there were exit passageways off this stairwell, so we jumped into one of them and were happy to be free of this Irish experience!
We were still able to tour the inside of the castle on our way back down and got a taste of the castle living quarters as well as gruesome traditions like ‘The Death Hole”. This was a hole in the floor right above the front entrance doors. This hole would then be used to pour hot oil on invaders trying to get in the castle – ouch! We also could see how close to the top we actually were when we jumped out of the stairwell. I would guess we were probably 5-7 minutes wait from the top, so knowing that now, I would go back and try again! Even though we didn’t kiss “the” Blarney Stone we did kiss blarney stones that weren’t shared by thousands of tourists! See picture below.
BLARNEY CASTLE GROUNDS
After our experience at the castle, we decided to explore some of the grounds. We were all amazed at the large unique trees we saw and the beautiful flower gardens blooming in October- that’s right, October! Our map led us to some amazing fern gardens that had an ancient jungle feel about them – not what we were expecting to see in a place like Ireland!
We spent a couple of hours here and if it weren’t for a time commitment we could have stayed a couple more! We also found many great trails to sights such as waterfalls, druid ruins, breathtaking foliage, and even a poisonous garden. Even so, there were even more trails and sights we didn’t get to explore. The map they hand out at the beginning was a great tool to help you decide what you have time for, but we would recommend packing a lunch or buying one there and spend the day alone or with the family. Either way, Blarney Castle is a must-see stop on your Ireland trip!
TRAVEL TIP: After touring Blarney Castle, head to Blarney Woolen Mills. It’s just a few minutes down the road and it consists of a 3-story store and 2 restaurants. The store has every possible Irish product you could ever want: everything from Celtic Claddagh pendants to woven blankets, sweaters, and scarves, to Irish teas, scones, and Irish crystal and pottery. All of the products are of high quality and they had the best prices over any other store we went into in Ireland and Northern Ireland. If you end up eating at Blarney Woolen Mills (and you should!), then I highly recommend the Irish Stew!