Kissing the Blarney Stone

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Culture, Human Interest

Published on October 21, 2009 with 1 Comment

Blarney Castle
Photo by Judi Iranyi

By Ralph E. Stone

October 21, 2009

On our recent trip to the Republic of Ireland we stopped in Blarney, County Cork, where the 15-century Blarney Castle — and the Blarney stone –are located. Supposedly, anyone who kisses the Blarney stone will get the gift of blarney or gab.

According to Gerry O’Brien, our Irish guide, who, by the way, has the gift of blarney, the lord of the castle was out walking one day when he came upon a young girl drowning in the river. He quickly saved the girl. The girl’s mother, a local witch, was truly thankful. She told the lord that a nearby stone had mystical powers and directed him to kiss the stone. Now the lord had a terrible stutter, but after he kissed the stone, his stutter disappeared. The lord knew the stone was too valuable to leave in the field. He had it brought to the castle and installed in the castle’s battlements in a nearly inaccessible place to make it difficult to steal. Now for a small fee, anyone can kiss the Blarney stone and, possibly, get the gift of blarney. Thousands, maybe millions, have kissed the Blarney stone over the years. Is it any wonder that there is so much blarney in the world?

“Blarney” is associated with smooth talking. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have invented the term “to talk Blarney” out of exasperation with Lord Blarney’s ability to talk endlessly without ever agreeing to her demands.

Now there is a world of difference between “Blarney” and “baloney.” Blarney is the varnished truth whereas baloney is an unvarnished lie. Blarney is flattery just thin enough to like and baloney is flattery laid on so thick we dislike it. Or as Monsignor Fulton Sheen observed: “Baloney is flattery laid on with a trowel. Blarney is flattery laid on with the lips; that is why you have to kiss a stone to get it.” If the world had a little more blarney and a little less baloney, it would not be in such a mess.

Yes, I did kiss the Blarney stone. After paying the castle entrance fee, I climbed a narrow circular stone staircase to the battlements at the top of the castle. I then laid on my back and, with the help of an attendant, my head and shoulders were lowered to the Blarney stone. I kissed it. Only time will tell whether I have been given the gift of blarney. And for another fee, I received a photo and a certificate in recognition of my achievement. My wife Judi decided not to kiss the stone. She figured with me, there is enough blarney in the household.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

It is now our difficult task to distinguish among the truth, blarney, and baloney.

Ralph E. Stone

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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