Monday, August 8, 2011

Irish Diplomacy

Irish Diplomacy...
is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to making the trip.

This must have something to do with the lure of the Blarney Stone.

As to the question of WHY the stone became synonymous with the ability to flatter with great diplomacy we learn that the Earl of Leicester was commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to take possession of the castle. Whenever he endeavoured to negotiate the matter McCarthy always suggested a banquet or some other form of delay, so that when the queen asked for progress reports a long missive was sent, at the end of which the castle remained untaken. The queen was said to be so irritated that she remarked that the earl's reports were all 'Blarney'.

Now, just in case you didn't know...

There is definitely a world of difference between "Blarney" and "baloney".

"Blarney is the varnished truth. Baloney is the unvarnished lie. Blarney is flattery laid on just thin enough to like it. Baloney is flattery laid on so thick we hate it. I firmly believe that if the world had a little more Blarney and a little less baloney it would not be in the mess it is today."

"Balooney is flattery laid on with a trowel. Blarney is flattery laid on with the lips; that is why you have to kiss a stone to get it."
Monsignor Fulton Sheen According to The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,the Blarney Stone is a triangular stone on the very top of an ancient castle of that name in the county of Cork. It is extremely difficult to access; so that to have ascended to it, was considered as a proof of perseverance, courage, and agility.

First you have to climb the MANY steps up the narrow, winding towers. (In my case, I got to climb it twice)Then you work your way around the top of the battlements keeping one eye on the spectacular vistas all around you and the other on the uneven rock underneath your feet.

Can you see that small hole at the very tippy-top, just underneath the battlements? That's what you will be hanging over in order to kiss the stone.

Relatively recently they have installed some iron safety rails but believe me, this is not something that someone who is afraid of heights will want to be doing. It is a long way down and you are definitely feeling vulnerable.

There were two previous buildings in this spot. The first was a wood building built in the 10th century. In 1446 the third castle was built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster. The Keep of this building is still standing today.

(ignore the blur-focus on the inside of the keep. This would've been the great room.)

We do not know for sure the actual source of the stone or how the legend of kissing it came about but there are several legends that might shed some light on the subject. My favorite one says that Cormac McCarthy supplied Robert the Bruce 4000 troops to help defeat the English in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and as a thank-you gift the Bruce gave part of the Stone of Scone to McCarthy which was then later incorporated into the battlements of Blarney castle and is now known as the Blarney Stone.

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