Get a load of Blarney: Cork village branches out from stone-kissing

Attempt to broaden Blarney’s appeal sees launch of heritage trail and map

A visitor kisses the Blarney Stone. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A visitor kisses the Blarney Stone. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

It may be most famous for Blarney Castle but now locals in the historic Co Cork village have come together to show there is more to “a load of old Blarney” than just kissing the stone and acquiring the gift of the gab.

Brand Blarney is a new group set up to promote tourism in the area, and chairwoman Deborah Maguire said they believe Blarney as a brand is owned by the local community. They have developed a heritage trail and map to enhance the experience for visitors to the village.

“With the heritage trail and map, we want to increase visitor football and offer insights into the rich history of the village, from its growth as a MacCarthy stronghold in medieval times to its development as an industrial village with the establishment of the Blarney Woollen Mills in 1750.”

The trail also includes places of more recent historical note, such as the Garda station which, in its previous incarnation as an RIC Barracks, was the target of an unsuccessful bombing attack by the IRA from the adjacent Castle Hotel in June 1920 during the War of Independence.

Indeed that failed attack by the IRA, re-enacted by the local Men’s Shed group, was one of the many re-enactments from Blarney’s history that were staged by locals at the launch at the weekend of the trail and map, which have been produced with the support of Cork County Council.

Good enough for Laurel and Hardy

While the map and guides includes details on the Famine and the arrival of the railway to the village, it also – not surprisingly – includes some interesting information on the Blarney Stone, including some of the more famous figures, fictional and real, who kissed it to acquire the gift of the gab.

“Blarney Castle has been a popular destination since the early 19th century, with Sir Walter Scott among the most notable early visitors when he came in 1825, while other notable visitors included Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy, Mick Jagger and one Bart Simpson, ” said Ms Maguire.

“So clearly Blarney has a lot of interesting stories to tell – both in relation to the castle but also from beyond the castle walls – and our hope is that with this trail and map, we can not only attract more visitors to Blarney but get them to stay longer in the area.”