5 miles north west of Cork city, Ireland, is Blarney Village, population 2,500. Blarney village is home to Blarney Castle, which itself is home to the world famous Blarney Stone. When a person kisses the Blarney Stone, it is reputed that the stone gives them the gift of the gab.
The name Blarney, actually comes from the Irish for the plain which is An blarna.
Originally in the 10th century, Blarney Castle was a timber hunting lodge, surrounded by woodland, and the River Martin. Built on a solid limestone mound above several caves, the timber castle was replaced by a stone castle in 1210.
The 90 foot castle as it stands today was completed by Lord Cormac McCarthy in 1446. His family lived in the castle until 1646 when it was invaded by Oliver Cromwell. They were later reinstated when King Charles II arrived on the English throne in 1461.
This lasted some two hundred years until the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the powers were stripped from all Irish chiefs. Once again they were forced to leave.
In 1703 the governor of Cork, Sir James Jefferyes bought the castle.
The Trustees of Blarney Castle Estate now manage the castle, which is mostly in disrepair, but the shell is solidly built. The tower originally had three storeys, with steep and narrow spiral staircases which were designed so that only one person could climb them at a time. This was used as a method of defence as attackers could only progress very slowly. Another method of defence used in the building was the narrow windows, which were suited to arrows being fired out of them, but very difficult to fire into.
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