Blarney is perhaps the most famous Castle in Ireland - although not because it is a spectacular Castle which it is.
It is, in point of fact, one of the largest of all Ireland's Tower Houses. The first Castle was a smaller tower built in the early 1400s. This stood to about 20 feet in height but was enlarged to the current 60 feet or so by Cormac MacCarthaigh late in the 1400s. The most noticeable feature is the heavy machiolations around the top of the Castle, which some schools of thought say were added a century after Cormac's time.
In the 1700s a 'gothick' extension was added but this was ruined by fire in the mid-1800s and was never repaired, the chief remains being the "bell tower" like structure (pictured above right).
The Castle is most famous, of course, for the Blarney Stone - part of the machiolations. By means of leaning over backwards over the massive drop to the floor and kissing the shiny stone you are supposedly granted the "gift of the gab"; the ability to charm with words. Queen Elizabeth I dismissing excuses from an Irish Lord as "all talk and Blarney".
The Castle is open to the public throughout the year and is worth a visit for Castle enthusiasts and general tourists alike.
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