A weekend trip to County Cork, Ireland brought me to one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions: Blarney Castle. The 600-year-old castle appealed to my historical sensibilities while the supposed mythological properties of the Blarney Stone appealed to my sense of adventure.
The Blarney Stone, a.k.a. “the Stone of Eloquence,” has several supposed origin stories, ranging from “it’s where Irish kings were crowned” to “it belonged to the Prophet Jeremiah” and “someone found it on the crusades.” So obviously the origin has been lost through time, but the stone is supposed to give the gift of gab/eloquence to anyone who kisses it. Sounds easy, right? Sort of, except that in order to kiss the stone you have to be dangled over the battlements of Blarney Castle holding onto two metal bars so that you don’t fall several stories to your death. Sure, there’s a person there holding onto you, but his grip didn’t look very secure and I’m scared of heights.
While in line for the Blarney Stone, I had several thoughts as I took off my raincoat and purse lest they inconveniently fall onto the ground.
- I already talk good, what if I skip this?
- The little sign says that the Discovery Channel thinks you should do this before you die.
- Great, so I’ll do it and then die when I fall out this tiny window.
- I’m sure people don’t die that often.
- We’re so high up, what the heck! Who put the magic stone this high up? How do we even know it’s magic? What if it’s bad magic?
I ended up doing it, because I had already told friends and family from home that I was going to before I found out about the whole ‘heights’ thing and I didn’t want to go back and admit that I had chickened out. Besides that, my dad kissed it when he went to Ireland in the 1980s and I thought that it would be a cool to have the same experience.
I had to take off my glasses, which added a whole element of near-blindness to the experience. The castle employee’s grip was loose, but I felt more secure than I had expected and slowly lowered myself down to the stone. I tried to kiss it too early a couple times, to which the guy said, “Not yet!” and I thought “omg I can see the ground and the ground is blurry.”
But then I reached the stone! It was shiny and gray and I kissed it, and then I clambered back up and put my glasses back on and was awfully proud of myself for not having an acrophobia-induced heart attack during the experience.
Did it work? I don’t know. I haven’t noticed any marked difference in how well I talk, but I also haven’t had to talk anyone into anything yet. Whether it worked or not, I still did something cool and famous – and got to (partially) triumph over a long-held fear while I did.