The Stone and The Witch’s Kitchen at Blarney Castle
The Blarney Stone at Barney Castle, Ireland, is an oddment all in itself. A piece of bluestone set into the battlements of the castle in 1446, kissing The Blarney Stone, legend has it, is supposed to endow the kisser with great eloquence. Various origin stories have been proposed, however, one particularly curious tale relates to a wooded area, just West of the castle, known as The Witch’s Kitchen.
In the wood a rock shaped unmistakably like the profile of a witch [image 2] stands a few metres away from small cave [image 4], within which is hidden a fireplace [image 5]. A stone chimney can be seen towards the left in image 3.
According to the legend, the witch of Blarney has been trapped in the rock since the dawn of time, however, whatever curse keeps her bound there admits her nocturnal freedom when she can crawl into the nearby cave and light a fire for warmth. The dying embers of said fire can sometimes be seen in the early morning.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the English threatened the Lord of Blarney, Cormac Teige McCarthy’s, traditional land rights. Cormac travelled to speak to the Queen but was convinced he would still lose his land as he was not an effective speaker. Before he left, however, he met with an old woman, some say the witch, who told him of the power of a particular stone in Blarney Castle that would give him the gift of the gab should he kiss it. Cormac went on to convince the Queen that he should not be deprived of his land.
Ever since the stone has been kissed by people hoping for a similar result, though it is not easily achieve. As aforementioned, the stone is situated in the castle’s battlements and one must lay on one’s back and lean quite far over the edge to touch it with one’s lips. There are currently iron bars for visitors to hold, and a castle employee for extra security, however, that was no always the case. Previously people were dangled by their feet to reach the stone, and that was after facing quite a dangerous climb through the crumbling remains of the castle. As such, kissing the Blarney Stone also became a sign of bravery.
[Sources: Images are mine | Wikipedia | Blarney Castle Website]