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Historic Buildings



Blarney Castle and Gardens, Cork

CONTACT:   Jean Murphy ADDRESS:  Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland
PHONE:  + 353 21 4385252 FAX:  + 353 21 4381518
EMAIL:   info@blarneycastle.ie  WEB:  www.blarneycastle.ie/contact

 
Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle as viewed today is the third structure to be built on this sight. In the tenth century there was a wooden hunting lodge. Around 1210 A.D this was replaced with a stone structure which had its entrance some twenty feet above the ground. This building was demolished for the foundations of the third castle built by Cormac Mc Carthy in 1446, which is the structure that we see today.

There are three different stories behind the Blarney Stone. The first story was that the stone was reputed to have been mentioned in the Bible as “Jacobs Pillow” and was supposed to have been brought to Ireland by Jermiah the Prophet. Another legend was that the King of Munster, Cormac Mc Carthy the keeper of the Castle, was said to have supplemented Robert of Bruce with four thousand men at the Battle of Bannockburn. In gratitude for his men, legend has it that Robert of Bruce gifted Cormac Mc Carthy with half the Stone of Scone, which was likely to be brought back during the Crusades. The Stone was incorporated in the battlements where it can now be kissed.

Another tale and the most famous tale behind the Blarney Stone, is that Cormac Mc Carthy was given the story of the stone by an old woman he saved from drowning in the lake. This lady turned out to be a white witch and as reward told Cormac Mc Carthy the secret of a stone in the castle, which would give you the gift of eloquence in return for kiss.

Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, the Castle was under threat as Queen Elizabeth 1st commanded the Earl of Leicester to take possession. How ever whenever the Earl went to negotiate the matter with Mc Carthy, a banquet was always suggested or some other delay, so that when ever the Queen asked for a report on the matter, she only ever got the news that the Castle remained untaken. The Queen became so irritated that she remarked that the earl’s reports were all ‘Blarney’.

The Queen then sent Cromwell’s general, Lord Broghill, who succeeded in breaking the tower walls. However when his men entered the Castle, he found two old retainers; the main garrison had fled by underground caves situated below the battlements known as the Badgers Cave. There are three passages, one to Cork, one to Lake and one seemingly to Kerry all had gone together with the repuated gold plate. Legend had it that Mc Carthy when fleeing the Castle threw the gold plate into the Lake, for fear that he would be captured. Over the years the Castle changed hands. A subsequent owner of the estate endeavoured to drain the lake, to try and find the golden plate. The effort was in vain, as the lake proved to bottomless.  The estate was forfeited by Donogh Mc Carthy, 4th Earl of Clancarthy who supported James 2nd in the Williamite Wars, the property passed to the Hollow Sword Blade Company who subsequently sold it to Sir James St. John Jefferyes, Govenor of Cork in 1688.At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Sir James St. John Jefferyes built a Georgian gothic house in 1739 up against the keep of the Castle, where he and his family resided

Also during this time a landscape garden known as the Rock Close was laid out with a remarkable collection of massive boulders and rocks arranged around what seemed to have been druid remains from pre-historic times. The Rock Close has many interesting features, one rock looks like witch and her hat lies nearby. There are wishing steps which in order to obtain one’s wish has to be negotiated down and up backwards with one’s eyes shut. They lead down to two dolmens, which also have druidic connotations.

The Jefferyes intermarried on January 14th 1846, with the Colthurst Family of Ardrum, Inniscarra and Ballyvourney, Co.Cork and Lucan, Co. Dublin. In 1820 the house that was built onto the Castle was accidentally destroyed by a fire, so the children of dying Lady Colthurst decided to build a new Castle in Scottish baronial style south of the present keep. This house was completed in 1874, and has since then been the family home ever since. This house is tastefully restored to its former glory, and contains a fine collection of early furniture, family portraits tapestries and works of art.

Over the recent years there has been great work put into the development of the surrounding gardens. The Poison Garden which was developed this earlier this year can be found alongside the Castle battlements. This garden contains a collection of poisonous plants from all over the world including Wolfsbane, Mandrake Ricin and many more .In the heart of the estate, a tranquil place called the fern garden can be found. This garden can be viewed from above a limestone cliff and can be accessed from by following a grass path through a wild flower strip by the edge of the woodland. This garden contains over 80 varieties of ferns which are artfully positioned.

 

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