It’s just a 20-30 minute bus ride from Cork City to Co. Cork’s most famous sight; Blarney Castle. I’ve never been. Kissing the Blarney Stone has been far down on my List of Things to Do While I’m Living in Ireland - far below “run with the sheep” (#2) and “visit the Aran Islands” (#4). I’ve not been particularly interested in kissing the Blarney Stone because I’m a bad American. Why would I want to kiss a rock? There are plenty of other Irish rocks around that I can kiss. Besides, it’s not like I need any help in the gab department.
But they say I should go so I go. I get off the bus and step into the green.
Stones, stones, everywhere but where’s the stone I kiss?
The crowds are thick here at Blarney Castle; I have yet to hear an Irish voice. My countrymen are pushing me inside and then higher and higher up a stone spiral staircase.
So where’s the Blarney Stone? Is it in here? How can I tell which stone it is? Is it that one over there?
I keep getting pushed up the stairs and finally, we’re at the top of the castle. Moody gray peeks through the blue skies. My fellow Americans appear to be gravitating towards a man who is kneeling towards the castle edge. I hear him speak and I realize that I’ve found him – the only Irishman at Blarney Castle.
“Hold the rail there now” he says. His accent is powerful Cork. I hold the metal rails and wonder if he’s got the Stone in his pocket, if he’s the Keeper of the Stone. It isn’t until he bends me backwards that I realize the Blarney Stone I’ve come to kiss is on the castle wall. Like I said, I’m a bad American, and apparently very slow on the take all around. I open my eyes; the ground spins above my head, several stories below. Kiss or scream? I screw up my lips and peck the Blarney Stone like it’s my 89 year-old great grandmother’s hairy cheek. The stone is cool and hard. Just then, I remember something Sean once said; the Blarney Stone used to be a urinal. Can that be true? Ugh; lift me up.
Upright again, regaining my balance on the top of the castle. This time when I look down, it’s a beautiful sight.
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