When I travel abroad, I try to limit the number of predictable tourist sites I visit. However, sometimes, tourist sites can give us some of the best experiences – and possibly a few tall tales to tell. A few years ago when I was in Ireland, I opted for a “touristy” side trip to Blarney Castle, in Cork. Yes, that Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone – the one you kiss to gain the gift of gab, ie. the ability to talk your way out of anything or get people to believe anything you say.
But kissing the stone is not just about the kiss itself. It is an entire Blarney-kissing process where you are actually helped by a much older man into a supported backbend, as you hold onto two posts and lower yourself down the side of a wall, where you ultimately kiss the shiny castle rock, previously kissed by hundreds of thousands of people. Whew, I’m a little shaky just thinking about it.
After swearing I would never kiss the Blarney Stone (and yes, you have to pay to kiss it), I found myself in the short line of wide-eyed grinning tourists ready to pucker up. No, I’m not going to do it. Yes, it would be fun. Damn, is it my turn already? Finally, I gave in to the jabs from my fellow tourists and got into position, which is much harder than it looks, especially when you’re already tense and all of the blood is rushing to your head. Thankfully, I witnessed the castle keeper wipe down the stone after each kiss, which made the experience more enjoyable (and sanitary). The whole process took about 30 seconds – and before I knew it I was being helped back into a sitting, then standing position. After the light-headed feeling passed, I began to wonder if kissing the Blarney Stone really would give me the gift of gab. I didn’t feel any chattier. In fact, I didn’t feel like talking at all.
The stone and powers it possesses is likely folklore, but sometimes I wonder. After all, I did end up working in public relations.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!