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A Celebration and a Resource
for the Irish Pub Community

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

By David McBride

Muskerry Arms in Blarney, County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com
The Muskerry Arms in Blarney, County Cork, Ireland
Tourists can be very strange animals indeed.  No matter how hard we try to blend into our foreign surroundings, we more often then not fail at resisting the urge to do those things the locals find annoying or strange, after which we might as well paint the word “tourist” across our forehead.  We simply can’t help ourselves.  I mean after all, we have come all this way!
Sign in Blarney, County Cork, ireland as seen in PartiongGlassMedia.com

On my recent trip to Ireland, we visited the very thing the prototypical tourist would certainly never dare to miss, kissing the Blarney Stone.  Every Irishman I met before we left for our trip all had the same reaction when I told them we were stopping at Blarney Castle.  They would hold back the snicker and smile as politely as they could and tell me how we simply had to do it because, well, “everyone does”.  In Ireland itself, that politeness turned into something much more graphic and hilarious as locals told tall tales of the last time the stone was actually cleaned and how locals would perform a civic duty and “rinse it off” themselves on the way home from the pub…if you know what I mean…

Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com
Blarney Castle

Truth be told, I wasn’t doing it no matter what stories I heard or how the locals felt about peculiar Americans.  I am self-confessed germaphobe, and the idea of kissing that rock after several hundred people did the same day was not at all appetizing.  (And seriously, that spray bottle you see on all the travel shows is only for effect!)  But I cleverly disguised my skittishness behind the very believable story that the gift of gab was something I clearly did not need.  But my wife and her sister were determined to be the tourists of the group.  No exaggerated Irish fable was going to deter them.  As we reached the town of Blarney, the two sisters, accompanied by their father who wasn’t interested in the famous smooch, went off ahead of the group to storm the castle and pucker up. We wouldn’t see them again until after the deed was done.

Corinn McBride kisses the Blarney Stone as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com
Corinn McBride proves that a kiss is not always just a kiss

Trailing behind with my camera, (no tourist here!), I spent my time admiring this beautiful little town and its incredible and iconic castle.  The existing castle, there actually were two others before it on the same grounds, was built in the mid-1400’s by the King of Munster, Dermot McCarthy.  Legend has it his predecessor Cormac McCarthy sent thousands of Irishmen from the ranks of his Munster Army to assist Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn.  In return, the Bruce sent his new pal a piece of Scotland’s famous Coronation Stone, also known as the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny.  Later when rebuilding the castle, Dermot felt the need to build the stone right into the walls of the keep.  How this all turned into something that involved kissing, I don’t think anyone can accurately say.  But truth be told, the entire legend is most likely just that, a legend.

The Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com
A closer look

Worms eye view of the Blarney Stone as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com
A worms eye view of the famous smooched mineral 

As I approached the castle walls, I saw our three conquering heroes emerging from the stronghold with the glow of victory on their faces.  They had done it, and they had the certified souvenir photo to prove it.  Even my father in-law, apparently caught up in the moment, leaned backwards across the precipice and kissed away.  They were truly proud of themselves and now they all had a great story to tell.  Despite the snickering and funny looks from jaded locals, to say they did it truly meant something to them.

So what do you do when you want to celebrate something, really anything for that matter, in Ireland?  Naturally, you go to the pub.  And luckily, as you exit the castle grounds and look across the street there is one that just seems to be calling your name.  So off we went to O’Connor's Muskerry Arms to toast and celebrate our heroes.

Muskerry Arms in Blarney, County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com

Bar at Muskerry Arms in Blarney, County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com

Dining room at the Muskerry Arms in Coiunty Cork, ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com

Suit of armor at the Muskerry Arms in County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com

portrait at the Muskerry Arms in County Cork, Ireland as seen in PartingGlassMedia.com

As you travel through Ireland, you quickly notice that each of the beautiful little towns that dot the countryside have a pub at their center.  It’s the place where the town comes together and in Blarney that place appears to be the Muskerry Arms. 

This warm and welcoming tavern seems to tell the long and complicated story of Blarney and of Ireland.  Hints of medieval chivalry stand alongside remembrances of Ireland’s more recent history.  Its theme is centuries of Ireland’s past all in one perfectly wrapped package.  The Muskerry Arms boasts a gorgeous and ornate wooden bar that should be the envy of Irish pubs the world over.  As you walk through its little snugs and hideaways, you’ll find a menacing suit of armor not far from a tribute to John F. Kennedy, and photos of rugby greats alongside those of the country’s rich railroading past.  Somehow it all fits together perfectly.

At journey’s end, it seems those of us who either were too hesitant or too influenced by the snickering to kiss the famous Blarney Stone will be forever known as the “chickens” of the group and won’t have the same story to tell as our three conquering heroes.  But thanks to the MuskerryArms we did all get to celebrate in style.

O'Connor's Muskerry Arms

Blarney, County Cork, Ireland

+353 (0)21 4385200



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