Rivers in major cities all over the world have run green this month. Bars filled with people wearing fake beards, green top hats, and sunglasses shaped as twin four-leaf clovers. After all, with or without any Irish heritage, everyone’s Irish at least on St. Patrick’s Day.
For sure, there’s been lots and lots of craic (Irish fun) and blarney (talk that is not necessarily true, but eloquent) going on.
If you’ve read my Wednesday posts, you’ve read a lot of Irish blarney. Some words less well-known idioms and blessings, some more familiar and oft-repeated quotes and sayings of Irish humor and insight. I’m thinking some of the lessons were clearly learned the hard way.
To receive the gift of Blarney, it’s said you should kiss the Blarney Stone located in the tiny village northwest of Cork in Country Cork within the Castle.
The castle itself was constructed in 1446, but the history of the place goes back two centuries before that time. The origins of the Blarney Stone as a magical stone is a mystery.
Some believe the stone at the castle is the stone Moses struck to produce water for Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Others believe it to be Jacob’s Pillow brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah and became the Lia Fail, or ‘Fatal Stone’, oracular throne of the Irish kings.
Still others tag it as the Stone of Ezel, which David hid behind while fleeing King Saul, and brought to Ireland during the Crusades. Ultimately to be used as the Coronation Stone of Scottish monarchs and St. Columba’s traveling altar throughout Scotland.
After Columba’s death, the stone came to Ireland to serve as the Stone of Destiny, the prophetic power of royal succession.
It is known that the word Blarney itself entered the dictionary during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, when Dermot McCarthy, castle ruler, kept delaying to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. When the Queen heard his excuses, she said “Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!”
Shortly thereafter the Francis Sylvester Mahony, an Irish bard of the early nineteenth century, wrote:
There is a stone there, that whoever kisses,
Oh! He never misses to grow eloquent:
Is all that history true? Who knows? The Irish are, after all, the world’s greatest story tellers.
Whether any of the blarney is true or not, Blarney Castle and its magical stone attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
And let me tell you kissing that stone is quite a feat. First, you climb up 90+ feet inside the castle stairway then execute a back bend that would cripple a skilled gymnast.
The higher I climbed the more my fear of heights and dark, narrow stairways kicked in. I never made it to the top. Instead taking the first exit to enjoy the garden and gift shop.
Personally, I think there’s a touch of the o’blarney in all writers whether they’ve ever been to the isle and kissed the stone or not.
Don’t you agree?