Full of Blarney

Hanging upside down and backward, 90 feet of open air beneath my head, I wondered how I would get out of this one.

Folks may wonder, when I’m telling of this adventure or that or when I try to sneak in a little humor if it’s on the up and up or if I’m just full of it.  Maybe I am, maybe I’m not,  but in this post you have my word, it will be full of Blarney.

While I’m sure all my regular readers have vocabularies suitable for populating dictionaries, and most of my newer visitors have a knowledge of euphemisms that would inspire a politician, it may be that there is someone unfamiliar with the term “full of blarney.”  It all goes back to a magical stone in an otherwise mundane wall in the ruins of a castle in Ireland.

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Blarney Castle

To some, this magical item is known as The Stone of Eloquence, but to most of the world it’s called the Blarney Stone (sometimes abbreviated as BS.) The story is, should you dare to assume the somewhat risky position it takes to approach the stone and give it a big fat kiss, you will be granted the gift of eloquence.  As fate would have it, my travels brought me to the castle.

I had to give the stone a smooch. It’d be silly to pass on the chance, wouldn’t it?  At least now if someone accuses me of being full of blarney I have an excuse.

To get to the stone we had to scale a tower and pass certain welcoming areas.

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Back in the day, some guests were less welcome than others.  In this room the ceiling had a grating, presumably for the dumping of hot oil.

Up we wound, along a stone enclosed spiral staircase. Placards told us they built the stairs steep and narrow on purpose; too narrow for more than one abreast to ascend or for any real sword work.

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Not as crowded on the way down

As we climbed, we passed small rooms with a slotted window. For some the wall was too thick, the frame too deep for a good photo.  For others, I could reach out to find a better view.

_72D5713-1200At last, we reached the summit. Railings guarded the inside edge of the battlements, protecting from a long drop through were floors used to be. It also gave us our first view for the process of kissing the Blarney Stone.

Along one section of the wall, a gap, maybe 15 inches by 4 feet, opened up between the battlements walk and the outer wall. Adjacent to the gap, padding was laid out, and an attendant sat on one side to walk supplicants through the process and hang onto them when they were at greatest risk.  After watching the process, including a few who got to the critical moment and bailed out, it was my turn.

I removed my glasses, change from pockets, and camera bag,  and seeking the gift of gab laid down on the padded surface to begin my transformation.

A modern addition to the process was a pair of parallel bars attached to the wall. I grabbed them and pulled myself into the gap.  Head and shoulders upside down, facing the wall vertically,  and dangling over a 90-foot drop.  It was quite disorienting.

The moment of truth.  The Stone was inches from my nose.  I gave it a quick smooch, and waited for my new powers of glib.

There are many legends behind the power of the stone. The most elaborate concerns the queen of the fairies, who was the daughter of a leading druid. It seems she fell in love with a gallant young chieftain, who was killed in battle.  She found his body washed up against a stone on the river Lee.  His blood, along with her tears and kisses were absorbed into the stone, and her magic along with it.  Henceforth, kissing the stone triggered the magic of the fairy queen.

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Kissing the Blarney Stone

The first “erudite” thing that popped into my head after my moment with the fairy magic, when trying to get back up again?  “Oh shit, this isn’t as easy as sliding down there in the first place.”

Fortunately, after reaching higher on the bars, and possibly with an assist from the attendant, I was able to extract myself, collect my belongings and my wits, and move on.

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My wife takes her turn.

It could be that my wife partook more deeply of the fairy enchantment.  As we were moving on, she commented that she had a salty taste on her lips.  After a pause, that was followed by, “maybe some of the people are giving it a French kiss!”

Was I transformed? Have I shed my usual quiet nature? Am I more full of the powers of the BS than before?

I don’t really think so.  But that may be for others to decide.

After descending a less crowded set of back stairs, we went on the explore the rest of the grounds.  Or at least part of them, the grounds are large and you could spend hours exploring.  We found a lower battlement wall, a garden of poisonous plants (probably not that poisonous) and a few trails, one leading to a sculpture garden.

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Father Nature’s crotch.  (Mother’s too refined to sit that way.)
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Do I boar you?
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Sculpture, from a fly’s perspective
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Dance of the Pixies
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From battlements to ballerinas

There were other sculptures, other gardens, other trails, even a lake and a mansion the current owners live in – all of which we did not have time for.  This is how it goes on a guided tour. Skim and move on.  Walk the trail, but keep an eye on the clock.  Stop and enjoy, but not too long.  Such is the plight of modern life, a deluge of instant gratification, a breeding ground for ADHD and fear of missing out, an inability to relax and smell the roses.

Could I have missed out on kissing the Blarney Stone? I suppose I could have, most of the world has without impact.  But I’m glad I didn’t.  I think the real gift of gab from letting it hang out and romancing the stone is more from bragging rights than from any real gain of eloquence.  Who’s to say it didn’t all start on a dare, one bored guardsman to another, to kiss the stone.  And after succeeding, said guardsman wouldn’t shut up about his deed, and those who suffered him said he’d gained the gift of gab.

And somehow, after all these years, the tradition of that dare, that gift has led all you fine readers to wend your way to the bottom of this piece and saying, “I guess there is something to the Blarney Stone – listen to him prattle on.”

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34 thoughts on “Full of Blarney

  1. Now, now, Dave, this is absolutely no BS. When comparing this your latest post with your previous ones I must declare that the magic of the kiss on stone has transformed your writing skills. Wow! What an adventure you had!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True that – it’s a position I wouldn’t have attempted after the herniated disk of a couple years ago. Before the rails they’d probably have an extra guy hanging on to the feet. But between liability and some folks getting heavier (the really heavy ones tend not to climb the stairs) the railings were a good idea. In any case, it’s a “been there, done that” story, and I tried to make the best of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Boy. did this one bring back memories. As a young grad student, I kissed the blarney stone- dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and tennis shoes- Which meant that the kind gents who dropped us on our way to our sure death decided that, for modesty reasons, we had to have a lap robe over our legs. I didn’t want a lap robe over my legs and someone hanging on to my tennis shoes, thank you very much, I wanted a team of huge firemen, a security rope around my waist, and a harness. Unfortunately, the times were different then. We who nearly dropped to our deaths salute you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I think it ended stronger than it started. I probably should have let the draft marinate for a day or so. Who says eloquence has to be ad lib? As for kissing the stone, I’ve done crazier things. I didn’t even have second thoughts until I realized gravity wasn’t my friend when trying to get back up again…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My comment was more from me reading the post a couple days after than anything you said. There were a few edits I’d considered that got missed, a typo or two, and a general sense the opening was kind of clunky. But I’d given myself a deadline…

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  3. I think I might desist – not so much for the back-bending pain, but for the idea of putting my lips where so many others had been! Yikes – that would gross me out for sure. I did enjoy reading about someone else braving it, but thanks for leading us away from the saliva stone and into that pretty sculpture garden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they may have had a towel to periodically give it a swipe, but yeah, I didn’t get too intimate with it. Forget the five second rule, I didn’t even violate the one second rule. 😉 The grounds were a nice bonus, wish we’d have had more time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure that would be a good idea. Seems to me the amount of BS that comes from that source is already unprecedented (unpresidented?). But it would be nice to hear a coherent string of sentences for a change.

      BTW, I wonder if BS means the same in Europe as it does over here. We all have our own euphemisms.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The hand railings along the battlements atop the castle walls probably had as many germs as the stone, but we tend not to think about that sort of thing. I did actually catch a cold on the trip, but it wasn’t until a week later.

      How did you ever survive in a building full of school kids?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gay Julian

    You captured the event well Dave. I could not hang upside down 4 storeys up for any stone. I did like the stairs though. So narrow and worn. Trodden by many generations before. What stories they could have told.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gay. To be fair, there was something to hang onto, and I made a point of ignoring how far away the ground was while doing it, but that’s no way to start a story. 😉 Did Sandra do it?

      Like

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