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Kissing the Blarney Stone: Tips for Visiting & the Legend!

The Blarney Stone is one of the most visited attractions in Ireland. In fact, over 400,000 people from all over the world tour Blarney Castle each year–many of whom choose to kiss the Blarney Stone! Of course, on my first visit to Ireland in 2022, I couldn’t resist the urge to participate.

Now, you may be wondering: why does a limestone rock attract so much attention? In this article, I’ll review the legend of the famous Blarney Stone and divulge my best tips for visiting this attraction in County Cork. Keep reading to learn how to skip the crowds!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you purchase a product or book a stay through these links at no extra cost to you.

What is the Blarney Stone?

View of the front façade of Blarney Castle in Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland, with a field of purple flowers in frontThe Blarney Stone, made of Carboniferous limestone, has a rich history in Irish and Celtic legends. One tale links it to Jacob’s Pillow in the Book of Genesis, later brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah, serving as the Lia Fail or “Fatal Stone” for Irish Kings.

Another myth connects it to the “Stone of Ezel” from David and Saul’s story, brought to Europe during the Crusades. Alternatively, one story suggests that Cormac McCarthy received the stone from Robert the Bruce in gratitude for Irish support during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Why do people kiss the Blarney Stone?

View of the entrance to Blarney Castle with a sign pointing towards Blarney Castle and the Blarney StoneKissing the Blarney Stone is believed to bestow “the gift of the gab,” defined as the ability to speak eloquently and fluently. The Irish, however, interpret this gift more informally, ranging from a playful accusation of talking too much to a compliment for being a skilled storyteller.

This tradition dates back to the late 18th century, with countless celebrities participating over the years, including Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Sir Walter Scott, and Mick Jagger. Visiting allows you to follow in their footsteps and even purchase a certificate confirming your newfound gift.

The official Blarney Stone legends

Photo showing where the Blarney Stone is built into the Blarney Castle outside wallsOne famous legend involves the goddess Clíodhna and Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, who sought her help during a legal dispute in the 15th century. She advised him to kiss the first stone on his way to court, leading to his newfound eloquence and legal victory.

Another version of the tale occurs during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. In this story, Cormac Teige MacCarthy, facing a castle seizure, discovers the stone’s power and skillfully delays negotiations. This gives rise to the term “blarney” in Ireland, meaning “empty flattery” or “beguiling talk.”

Why do you kiss the Blarney Stone upside down?

Woman leaning backward while holding iron rails to kiss the Blarney Stone in IrelandWhen kissing the Blarney Stone, you’ll notice an unusual tradition: participants must lie on the ground and hang upside down. People often ask: can’t you just stand, lean over, and kiss the wall? Well, actually, no, you can’t.

The particular Blarney Stone piece built into the castle walls is located on the bottom of a parapet. So, Blarney Castle has devised the only feasible (and safe!) way for tourists to reach it.

How do you kiss the Blarney Stone?

Side view of Blarney Castle in Ireland, showing the entrance to the Blarney Stone and the tower where the Blarney Stone is locatedTo kiss the Blarney Stone, visitors sit on a padded mat and lean back towards it while holding onto railings. Of course, an employee is also there to help! Iron bars below prevent falls, offering a much safer alternative than the past practice of being held by the ankles over the castle walls.

Blarney Castle also cleans the stone after each kiss, using environmentally friendly cleansers approved by the World Health Organization. Just a quick heads up: Climbing over 125 narrow steps up a winding staircase to reach the top may not be suitable for those with vertigo or a fear of heights.

Where is the Blarney Stone?

View of Blarney Castle as you walk onto the property, showing a bridge in front of the castle and surrounding gardensTo kiss the Blarney Stone, travel to Blarney Village, located just over five miles (8.7 km) from Cork City, where the legendary stone is built into the walls of Blarney Castle. Luckily, this historic site is open to visitors year-round!

It takes approximately 3-4 hours to drive from Dublin to Blarney or about 2 hours from Shannon Airport. After purchasing your ticket, head to the top of the castle, climbing about 125 narrow steps to reach the stone built into the east wall, about 85 feet (26 m) above the ground.


Is Blarney Castle worth visiting if you don’t want to kiss the Blarney Stone?

View of the front of Blarney House with a blossoming tree in front Kissing the Blarney Stone is definitely not for everyone. However, despite the relatively high ticket price (€22 for adult admission), Blarney Castle & Gardens are still worth the visit, even if you opt not to partake in the stone-kissing tradition.

The Wishing Steps in Blarney Gardens, showing stone staircase with greenery and a small pond surrounding itDating back to 1446, the castle and its expansive 60-acre gardens, including The Rock Close & Water Garden, the Poison Garden, the Fern Garden, arboretums, and walking trails, offer a rich historical and natural experience. Moreover, the view from the top of Blarney Castle is worth the climb!

When is the best time to visit Blarney Castle?

Photo of wait time sign to kiss the Blarney Stone is Ireland stating that the wait time from this point is 30 minutesBlarney Castle operates daily except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with seasonal hours. In the low season (Jan/Feb/Mar & Nov/Dec), it opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while during shoulder seasons (Apr & Oct), hours extend to 5:30 p.m., and in high season (May-Sept) to 6 p.m.

The best time of year to kiss the Blarney Stone is any time outside of high season. So, think April, September, or October to avoid crowds. Additionally, I highly suggest avoiding the peak hours (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and staying overnight in Blarney for a convenient visit!

Tips for visiting the Blarney Stone

Stairs leading to the Blarney Stone inside Blarney Castle, IrelandChoose to visit either in the morning or in the evening.

Arriving at 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. is the best way to avoid long wait times to kiss the Blarney Stone. Just make sure you get there before the last admission time! You can also purchase tickets online in advance on the official Blarney Castle website.

View of the inside of Blarney Castle from the top of the castle, showing stone walls and parapetsPlan to spend at least 2, if not 3, hours at Blarney Castle & Gardens.

Cottage surrounded by greenery in Blarney Gardens in IrelandEspecially if you’re visiting on a clear or sunny day, you’ll want to have plenty of time to explore the gardens. You won’t want to miss seeing Blarney House, the Rock Close, the Wishing Steps, or the Water Garden. 

The Witches Stone in Blarney Gardens in IrelandYou can ask the employees if you’d like photos or videos kissing the Blarney Stone.

They take an official photo that you can purchase at the bottom of Blarney Castle. However, they will also take pictures on your phone or camera. Just make sure to bring some euros to leave a nice tip!

You don’t have to kiss the Blarney Stone for a visit to be worth it!

View of Blarney Gardens and Blarney Village from the top of Blarney Castle in IrelandThe view from the top of Blarney Castle is unparalleled. Plus, you can spend hours on the woodland paths around the property.

Stay the night in Blarney for the best experience.

Firstly, it’ll be easier to wake up early and beat the crowds. Secondly, you won’t have to be in a rush to leave the grounds and get back to your hotel. 

Where to stay near the Blarney Stone

View of the entrance to Blarney Woolen Mills Hotel in Blarney, Ireland

Photo courtesy of Blarney Woolen Mills Hotel

The best places to stay near the Blarney Stone are all within the village of Blarney–about 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Cork City. The main things to do in town are visit the castle, kiss the stone, and shop at the Blarney Woollen Mills.

Since Blarney is relatively small, you’ll want to reserve one of these hotels in advance. They do get booked up during the high season!

Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel

Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel is built on the grounds of a historical wool mill, a short 5.6 miles from the Cork city center. Plus, this property is 0.3 miles from Blarney Castle (about a 5-minute walk!).

Click here to book your stay!

Muskerry Arms Bar and B&B

Muskerry Arms features 11 bedrooms, each with modern décor, free wifi, a private bathroom, and tea/coffee-making facilities. However, the best part about staying at Muskery Arms B&B is that Blarney Castle is only three minutes away!

Click here to book your stay!

Blarney Castle Hotel

Blarney Castle Hotel is located 600 feet from Blarney Castle and approximately a 5-minute walk from the world-famous Blarney Stone. Guests can enjoy a full Irish breakfast at The Lemon Tree Restaurant (included in their stay).

Click here to book your stay!

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Learn why people kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland, the famous legend behind this magical stone and the gift of the gab, and our best tips for visiting this attraction at Blarney Castle in County Cork.

This post was first published in May 2022 and has since been updated.

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Felipe Adan Lerma

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

" the olden days, those wishing to kiss the stone would be held by the ankles over the castle walls. So, at least now there's a much better option!" - what a fun article! Forwarding it to my wife, who's 1/2 Irish, 1/2 French - sometimes hard to tell which, lol! 😊

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