Blarney Castle, one of Cork’s top attractions, was originally constructed from wood in the 12th century. It was later replaced by a stone fortification around 1210AD. After its destruction in 1446, the castle was rebuilt by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, King of Munster.
The castle was seized by Lord Broghill in 1646 during the Irish Confederate Wars. After the restoration it was restored to Donough MacCarty, the 1st Earl of Clancarty. His descendent, the 4th Earl of Clancarty, was captured in the Williamite war and all his lands, including Blarney Castle, were confiscated. The Castle was sold a number of times before the Governor of Cork; Sir James St John Jefferye’s purchased it.
The mansion built by the Jefferyes family beside the keep was destroyed by a fire in 1820. The Jefferyes family intermarried with the Othurst family and in the year 1874 Lady Colthurst, completed a new castle in the Scottish baronial style, which is now known as Blarney House and has been the family home ever since.
Blarney Castle is of course famous for its Blarney Stone, which according to legend bestows the gift of eloquence on any who kisses it. Legend has it that Robert the Bruce gave half of the Stone of Scone to Cormac McCarthy to reward him for all his support in the Battle of Bannockburn, and that this stone was incorporated into the battlements. Another legend tells that it is none other than the Lia Fáil – a magical stone upon which the kings of Ireland were crowned.
The castle and grounds are open to the public all year round and is definitely a must see if you are visiting the county of Cork. The grounds also contain numerous other attractions for you to enjoy, such as the rock close gardens, lake walk, dungeons and caves.