Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blarney Castle. Great Visit. More than kissing the stone!

Blarney Castle. Great Visit.

More than kissing the stone!
There is so much more to Blarney Castle than its famous stone.

Get your lips on hunk of rock at the top of the castle and, with the gift of the blarney now in your armoury, you will talk and talk and talk… Its reputation has been enhanced by some famous visitors including Winston Churchill, who kissed the stone in 1912.
 But when you do get down those narrow stairs, the set going up (100 steps) are even narrower, do take time to look around and explore the 60 acres of parkland which includes gardens, avenues, arboretums and waterways.

One of those gardens, the fascinating Poison Garden, is right at hand when you exit the castle itself as it is alongside the battlements. Don't touch. Don’t smell. Don't eat! But do look. You'll have lots of company as this spot is quite an attraction and visitors seem almost unable to believe what is on the information plaques.

In the Poison Garden
 Strange names for sure such as Mandrake (above) and Wolfsbane but many familiar ones such as Yew, Rhubarb, Foxglove, Lupin even. And these are no fictional tales. Here you’ll read about the Castor Oil Plant. Rictin is derived from this and was used in the 1978 murder in London of Georgi Markov.

Other gardens include the Rock Close and Garden and the Fern Garden. Our walk took us away from the Poison Garden and through the carpets of daffodils towards 19th century Blarney House itself which opens to the public during the height of the season (June-August). This is quite an impressive building.

It is probably best seen from the lake. That is easily found - be sure and pick up your leaflet/map on the way in. We strolled down to the lake past horses and donkeys and indeed a bunch of young bulls (all behind wire!). The view over the lake is pleasant. Then turn around and look back through the field (where the cattle were on our visit) and you’ll get a very good view of the house.

With sixty acres to explore, you will, if you wish, do quite a lot of walking here. The peaceful woodland walk includes a circuit of the 21 acre Blarney Lake. There is also a river walk, a boardwalk and water garden, a waterfall, dolmen, wishing steps, even a fairy glade! And do look out for the sculptures scattered around the grounds.
There are some odd bits and pieces too: a Horse Graveyard,an old limekiln,dungeons (at the foot of the castle) and, believe it or not, a Victorian Septic Tank House (looks very neat actually).
 If you have children, then you'll find play-areas, toilets (one near the entrance and one by the castle, maybe more), and there are also picnic tables, quite a few close to the entrance. If you prefer someone else to do the catering then you’ll find the Stable Yard Cafe and Gift Shop at hand, again by the entrance. Read all about the castle and grounds here.