No visit to Ireland would be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle in County Cork, home of the famous Blarney Stone, the bluestone slab incorporated into a murder hole in one of the battlements at the top of a castle wall. Murder holes are a common feature of castle ceiling gates and curtain walls allowing rocks, boiling water, or other noxious substances to be dropped on the enemy.
There are a variety of conflicting legends about the origin of the stone. According to one story, it was a gift from the Scots, a piece of the Stone of Scone, after the local king, Cormac McCarthy, supported Bruce at Bannockburn. There is another story, perhaps created by folks who had kissed the stone. It is that the stone was brought back from one of the crusades from the Holy Land where it had formerly been either a piece of the Wailing Wall, the stone Moses struck to produce water, or the pillow from which Jacob saw his vision.
Whatever its origin, the stone is kissed by thousands of tourists daily, presumably to achieve the gift of eloquence which is the purported benefit of the deed. Visitors pay a fee and allow themselves to be held by Castle staff suspended upside down in the murder hole. There are now guide rails and crossbars to keep stone-kissers from falling through the hole should those holding them lose their grip, but in the early days of stone-kissing there were no safety features.
Laetitia and her group arrived to find a long waiting line to kiss the stone. Most of her group decided to look at the castle and grounds and then move on, but a small contingent stood in line and kissed the stone. When one of the osculators was teased by her husband about how many disease germs she could get from the thousands of mouths that kiss the stone daily, she suddenly looked sick and ran to the ladies’ room to wash out her mouth with soap.
Being a person with a quirky sense of humor, Laetitia wrote the day’s limerick from the point of view of the stone.