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The Mystical Blarney Castle – Part 1

There is something about Ireland that seems to capture one’s imagination. It’s a land filled with stories of strange faeries, enchanted creatures and giants, a green landscape that still seems like it is inhabited by the same Celtic people that lived there thousands of years ago. In short it somehow feels like a magical place. The country is filled with places you can visit to hear these stories, even some of the pubs will likely play a song or two concerning the ways of old. That being said there is one site that has seen visitors from all walks of life, from everyday citizens like you and me to world leaders, that site is Blarney Castle, home to the infamous Blarney Stone.

Blarney castle is a medieval stronghold that sits in the town of (you guessed it) Blarney, around 8 km from Cork in the South of The Republic of Ireland. Stone fortifications were first erected here around the year 1210 CE, though it is believed that there was in fact a timber house on the same grounds earlier still. This stone fort stood for over 200 years until they were destroyed in 1446. After this they would be rebuilt in the 15th Century fashion by Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the Lord of Muscry, it is this castle that remains there today.

The castle (and Ireland in general) saw its fair share of turbulence during the 17th Century, particularly during the Irish Confederate Wars, which were part of what is perhaps better known as the English Civil War, which naturally involved the entirety of Great Britain. Blarney Castle was besieged by the parliamentary forces in 1646 CE, these forces were led by Lord Broghill who earned a reputation for his antagonism against the Irish Catholics. As with many of Britain’s castles during this period, extensive damage was made during this bloody clash. Once the Restoration had taken place however the castle was once again restored. Since then the castle changed hands many times though it would go on to see further improvements made during Queen Anne’s reign in the early 18th Century.

The owner at this time was Sir James St. John Jeffreys created a new addition to the structure, against the keep he constructed a Georgian house in the typical gothic style of the time. At the time this was custom all across Islands, all the lords were doing it. Unfortunately, this house fell victim to a fire in 1820, though the ruins can still be seen. He and his family also laid out an impressive garden called the Rock Close, it has a rather impressive collection of rocks arranged around what is believed to be a prehistoric stone circle which is named the “Druids Circle”, other features here are the “Witches Cave” and the “Wishing Steps”, each of which seem to hold the magic of Ireland. You will also find the very interesting poison garden here, which has range of poisonous plants like mandrake, wolfsbane and opium, though they are caged so don’t get any funny ideas.