Thursday Salute to Originals: The Blarney Stone

This Thursday, let’s mix a few of my favorite things from personal and professional life (Irish tradition and natural stone) by saluting an old icon in Irish tradition, the Blarney Stone.

The Blarney stone is set into the walls of Blarney Castle, in Cork Ireland, lodged into a crevice between the main walls and the parapet. Legend has it that those who kiss the Blarney Stone are bestowed with the ability to speak sweetly and persuasively. Countless tourists make the adventurous journey to hang upside down and press their lips to the famous stone – gripping metal bars, pilgrims hang upside down and backwards into an abyss to make contact with the lucky object.

Worn down over the years, the Blarney Stone has been manipulated by years of repetitive contact. Now what could make a lousy, inconveniently placed piece of rock so appealing? Tales speculate that a king saved an old woman from drowning, and she cast a spell on the rock as his repayment. When the king kissed the stone, he was bestowed with the gift of eloquent speech. Other versions of the story characterize the stone as a magical royal throne, some claim it was brought to Ireland from the Crusades, and others believe Moses struck the rock to yield water.

Whatever the true origins, the Blarney Stone is a cultural institution formed by oral storytelling and strong tradition, and still holds a magical draw for all sorts of people. Its longevity is testament that the strong links of storytelling and some skillful mysterious placement in relationship to architecture can prove to be more powerful to the physical appearance of a feature.

Gotta cut this blog post short before the Irish soda bread burns in the oven, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!

Image credit: Brosner via Flickr Creative Commons