I am part Irish. Grandma MOE’s side is from Ireland, three generations before her. So it was a dream to be able to go to the town where my ancestors came from; County Cork.
It was December of 2004. We had decided to visit Ireland on one of our long weekends while we were living in Italy.
RyanAir made it easy then, with ridiculously low fares to fly to Ireland (if I’m not mistaken, round trip flights were 49 euros). A little scary to think that was even enough for fuel to get us up off the ground, but it did and we arrived with so much excitement and hope in discovering a new country.
We went to Dublin first, where we ate well, drank Guinness, and jumped into a pub that had a traditional band playing Irish folk music. We visited Dublin Castle, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College, where the famous Book of Kells resides (that was absolutely incredible). The Trinity College library is one I will never forget – I felt like I was stepping into a fantasy, the structure was incredible. We ogled over the crystal creations at Waterford, and then we made it over to County Cork.
As soon as I stepped foot on the ground of this town, I felt a special bond. Sure, it could have been in my head, but even if that was all it was, the time we spent there felt incredible. It was a quaint town, where people had the same features and height as my mother’s side of the family. We bought some Irish linen and an Irish wool blanket for Grandma MOE. While shopping around, I found a map of all the Irish last names and where they originated. I was surprised to learn my grandfather’s last name came from the north while my grandmother’s name came from the south. Somehow, those two names met and my family was created!
We stayed in a hotel in Blarney, just outside of Cork, so that we could finish our trip with a kiss of the Blarney Stone. My husband did not have any fascination for this adventure but humoured me and off we went.
It was a humid and wet day, much like many Irish days, as we made our way to the incredible Blarney Castle. Now, in order to kiss the Blarney Stone, you would perhaps think it is just a simple walk to a monument stone within the castle, kiss it and you’re done. To that, I will say, you are completely and utterly wrong. In fact, kissing the Blarney Stone is the very opposite of easy.
In order to kiss the Blarney Stone, you first have to, for lack of a better word, climb, the broken castle with very narrow steps to get to the top where the stone is. Then, a sweet old Irishman is waiting for you there (this day with a raincoat on, so add that to the ease of the climb up; wet rocks).
Why, pray tell is this Irishman waiting for you? Before there is no way in God’s green earth that you can manage to kiss the Blarney Stone without his aid. Here’s why: in order to correctly kiss the Blarney Stone, you must lay on your back, push your head backwards and lean down the open castle wall to reach the stone and kiss it.
All the while, this kind man is holding your torso so you don’t plummet to your death.
So tell me, friends, do you think I did it?
You bet I did! (Husband did not.)
I wasn’t going to leave Blarney without kissing that stone. All I could think of while I was leaning upside down was “please don’t let him lose his grip from the wetness of the day”.
I would love to tell you that I made it all up, and this is, in fact, a load of Blarney. But it is not. That is precisely how you have to kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland.
And why do people from all over the world flock to Blarney to kiss the stone? It is said the stone will give its kissers the gift of eloquence. Perhaps that little peck while I was leaning upside down, in complete fear, did give me a little more eloquence in my writing. Who knows?
I was happy to have gone and succeeded. And when I say succeeded, it’s what the people at Blarney believe too. Because you go home with a certificate, proving your success.
So do you think you could do it? Would you want to?
Let me know in the comment below.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!