"Kiss the Blarney Stone to get the gift of the gab!"
Depending on your position on the spectrum of travel from cynical seen it all grinch to naive open eyed walking pickpocket victim of choice, the above sentiment will fill you with differing amounts of head-slapping derision.
The Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle is famous the world over and features at the top of almost everyone's bucket list. The stone purports to imbue whoever kisses it to be endowed by the gift of eloquence and to be able to talk like, well, an Irishman.
Hush your sighing, cynics, this is something a little different, a unique experience that affords great photo opportunities. So what if you might have to stand in a queue for an hour and could potentially contract the rampant mouth herpes of the guy in front, if you want to do it, then do.
There's so much more to Blarney Castle than just the stone. For a start, the stone is actually connected to a rather fine castle. This is a castle in the medieval sense which has thankfully not been renovated into a rich Victorian's house. The well-preserved and simultaneously crumbling keep and tower looks very photogenic and is very accessible.
The extensive grounds offer miles of footpaths through forests and fields which are punctuated by interesting little asides like the Poison Garden. This curiosity stocks an arsenal of some of the best known poisons and contraband, like Wolfsbane, Ricin, Opium and Cannabis.
In the cafe, you can eat in an old stable. On a table in the actual horse paddocks. It's worth the hefty EUR 18.00 entrance fee alone to sit down to order in the paddock and quip "I could eat like a horse." Holiday memories - made.
There's also the surrounding village of Blarney. Touristy as all hell, yes, but it's got a few pubs and cafes to get lunch plus lower end shops to get presents for the relatives you don't really like and the Blarney Woollen Mills to get presents for yourself.
Blarney Stone or no, Blarney Castle is the guts of a great day in County Cork.