The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of persuasive eloquence, "the gift of gab" (aka Blarney).
The castle was built in 1446 by Cormac MacDermot McCarthy. Its walls are 18 feet thick which were necessary to thwart attacks. Reaching the blarney stone is not easy ... it is located between the main castle wall and the parapet. Kissers have to lie on their back and bend backward and downward, holding onto iron bars for support.
Thousands of tourists a year still visit the castle. Can you imagine working that hard to kiss something that people have been kissing for over 500 years? The Irish have got to be the most passionate people in the world! Who else would do all that hard work to kiss a rock? (*Smile*)
The origin of the custom of kissing the stone is unknown, though the word "Blarney," meaning to placate with soft talk or to deceive without offending, probably derives from the stream of unfulfilled promises of Cormac MacDermot MacCarthy to the Lord President of Munster in the late sixteenth century. Having seemingly agreed to deliver his castle to the Crown, he continuously delayed doing so with soft words, which came to be known as "Blarney Talk."
Just how the blarney stone supposedly got its magical powers is unclear, but one legend says that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly.
Others say there was a king who once lived in the castle that had a great ability to stay in the middle of an argument, not taking sides ... but making both happy. His wife began to say he was "Full of Blarney."