The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone but it’s also a great destination for the whole family. According to legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the ‘gift of the gab’ (or the ability to be a smooth talker), so a climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone could be well worth it. It was built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac Mac Carthy.

The Earl of Leicester was commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to take possession of the castle. Whenever he endeavoured to negotiate the matter McCarthy always suggested a banquet or some other form of delay, so that when the queen asked for progress reports a long missive was sent, at the end of which the castle remained untaken. The queen was said to be so irritated that she remarked that the earl’s reports were all ‘Blarney’.

From the top of the Castle you can take in the wonderful views of over 60 acres of sprawling parklands which include gardens, avenues, arboretums and waterways. There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, like the Fern Garden. The Poison Garden, beside the battlements, is home to a fascinating collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world, like the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy. The Rock Close, a mystical place where majestic yew and oak trees grow around an ancient druidic settlement. The water garden and waterfalls create the perfect backdrop to a magical experience.

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