Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
As a McCarthy (maiden) I’ve always been intrigued by my Irish roots and in wanting to go to Ireland and kiss the famous Blarney Stone. As I researched my ancestry I’d found out quite a bit, and it was really cool to learn about the history of the McCarthy clan in regards to the Blarney Castle where the famous stone has been kissed by presidents and the famous as well as 300,000 people a year wanting to receive the gift of gab.
Cormac MacCarthy is said to have built the castle hundreds of years ago, and the castle was held onto by the McCarthy tribe for many generations. Interesting story, apparently Saint Patrick himself had accidentally driven his holy staff into the foot of the first McCarthy Christian king, Aongus, who had just gotten baptized by the famous Saint. Thinking this was a necessary part of the ceremony, Aongus patiently endured the pain. When Saint Patrick realized what had happened and saw poor Aongus in pain, he waived the sign of the cross over his foot to stop the bleeding and then blessed Aongus saying that his descendants would wear the crown for the next ten generations, and the McCarthy’s did end up holding onto the crown for even longer than that.
Another interesting story was the introduction of the word blarney. It is said that in 1602, Cormac Teige MacCarthy, Lord of Blarney, was under pressure from Queen Elizabeth to swear his allegiance to her and hand over legal tenure of his lands. Every demand of the Queen was met with promises of undying loyalty, flattery, and suggestions that he had every intention of doing it. As time went on and no allegiance or land was given to the Queen she complained of his “fair words and soft speech”. When the Queen’s patience had worn thin, she received another promissory MacCarthy letter and Queen Elizabeth exclaimed,”This is all Blarney; what he says he never means!” And the word became a part of the English language and is now part of history.
The story of the Blarney Stone itself is also the stuff of absolute legends. It’s known as “The Stone of Eloquence” and to kiss it gives the kisser the gift of gab and persuasive speaking. Being a McCarthy, I hope that this also translates to the gift of writing as well and that I can receive the gift with no kissing necessary just by virtue of being a McCarthy! And should I ever travel and kiss the stone? Maybe the gift would be doubled!
The Blarney Stone’s origins are somewhat a mystery, but if you have the time to research it a bit it has a very interesting history. Some believe the stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Others believe it to be the ‘Stone of Ezel’ from the Bible, which was the stone that Jonathon advised David to hide behind while David was fleeing from a jealous King Saul. Another legend says it was the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Most believe, though, that it was gifted to Cormac MacCarthy by Robert the Bruce after the battle of Bannockburn and that MaCarthy installed the stone at Blarney Castle, hence the name.
If you’d like to learn more about the Blarney Castle and history of it and the Blarney Stone, I recommend visiting their website. Wishing you a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!