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The Legend of the Blarney Stone

Just outside the small hamlet of Cork, Ireland is Blarney Castle and its famous stone. Some say the bluestone was the rock that Moses struck with his staff to get water for the parched Israelites in the wilderness, others claim is was once Jacob’s pillow on the night he wrestled with God. But the rock is most famous for its supposed ability to give anyone who kisses it eloquent speech and the finesse to smooth talk others.

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Image: View from the top of Blarney Castle; Heather Elias, Flickr

For visitors to this part of Ireland, just reaching the Blarney Stone is half the fun. It used to be that people would be hung by their heels over the edge to reach the stone -- not the safest way to get the gift of gab. Nowadays, you lie on your back while someone sits on your legs and grabs hold of your feet. Tilting your head back as far as you can, you hold onto iron railings and lower yourself until your head is even with the mythical stone. Then you just pucker up, plant a sloppy one on the stone, and hope for the best.

Besides historic Blarney Castle, the Cork area offers plenty of other ways to explore the countryside of the Emerald Isle. At the Cobh Heritage Centre visitors can experience authentic 18th century life, the history of the Great Famine, and Ireland’s mass emigration. Take a visit to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a Gothic Revival-style cathedral described as “overwhelming and intoxicating,” or browse Ireland’s most impressive food market, the English Market.

The Cork region of Ireland is just one of the places you’ll visit on Travcoa’s Castles & Countryside of Lore Journey. This 11-day itinerary lets you explore Ireland and Northern Ireland with an intimate gathering of just 18 like-minded travelers. Best of all, it features stays at extraordinary accommodations including the 5th century Dromoland Castle Hotel, a five-star property that was once the ancestral home of Gaelic royalty. This small-group Escorted Journey is one of many offered by the luxury travel company, along with Private Tours and Custom Travel itineraries around the world. To learn more, call your travel agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, or email info@travcoa.com.

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Topics: Ireland, Northern Ireland