The world-famous Blarney Castle in Cork is one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. Just ten minutes from Cork City, this medieval attraction boasts not only the Blarney Stone but also the magical Rock Close area.
The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone but it’s also a great destination for the whole family. According to legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the ‘gift of the gab’ (or the ability to be a smooth talker), so for those who dare, a climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone could be well worth it.
For a more relaxing experience, take a stroll through the Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close—an attractive destination in their own right. There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, like Fern Garden, located deep in the woods and designed to feel like a tropical jungle. Poison Garden, beside the battlements, is home to a fascinating collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world, like the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy.
Get in touch with your Celtic past at the Rock Close, a mystical place where majestic yew and oak trees grow around an ancient druidic settlement. Follow the trail through giant gunnera leaves and bamboo and you’ll find a giant dolmen stone, a set of ‘wishing steps’ and a witch's kitchen. The water garden and waterfalls create the perfect backdrop to a magical experience for visitors.
After an exploration of Blarney Castle Gardens, there are more walking trails to follow along the banks of the River Martin, in which the castle can be seen beautifully reflected.
In springtime, the castle grounds are filled with thousands of flower bulbs and the ‘Belgian Beds’ are covered with hybrid azaleas in full flower. In autumn, the landscaped arboretum glows as the leaves of the trees turn red, amber and gold.
Relax after your rambles in the Blarney Castle stable yard and café or browse the Court Exhibition Rooms and the souvenir shops. Blarney Castle and Gardens is an oasis of calm and a great family destination in which to visit the Blarney Stone and explore the beauty of East Cork.