November 21, 2012

0391 IRELAND (Munster) - The Blarney Castle and the Stone of Eloquence

Located in South-West of Ireland, near Cork, Blarney Castle (in Irish Caisleán na Blarnan), as it looks today, is the third erected on this site, after a wooden structure built in the 10th century, replaced around 1210 by a stone stronghold, demolished in the first half of the 15th century. In 1446, Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, rebuilt the castle, which was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars (between the native Irish Catholics and English and Scottish Protestant colonists and their supporters). It was seized in 1646 by Parliamentarian forces, and after the Restoration it was restored to Donough MacCarty, who was made 1st Earl of Clancarty.

During the Williamite War in Ireland in the 1690s, the then 4th Earl of Clancarty (also named Donough MacCarty) was captured and the castle were confiscated by the Williamites, together with all his lands. It was sold and changed hands a number of times before being purchased in the early 1700s by Sir James St. John Jefferyes, then Governor of Cork City. In the mid 19th century the Jefferyes and Colthurst families were joined by marriage, and the Colthurst family still occupy the demesne.

The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle, into the battlements, lies a block of bluestone, named the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. It is said that those who kiss the stone will receive the gift of eloquence. To touch the stone with one's lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet's edge.

A legend say that the stone was send to Cormac McCarthy, King of Munster, by Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, in 1314, in recognition of his support (with 4.000 men from Munster) in the Battle of Bannockburn. This legend also holds that this was a piece of the Stone of Scone, the oblong block used in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland and later the monarchs of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

About the stamps
The stamp is part of the definitive series entitled Wild Flowers of Ireland, about which I wrote here.

Blarney Castle - Wikipedia
Blarney Stone - Wikipedia
Blarney Castle - Official Blarney Castle Website

Sender: Fiona Naughton (direct swap)
Sent from Cobh (Ireland), on 12.04.2012
Photo: Peter O’Toole

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