A visit to Blarney Castle in County Cork, the home of the Blarney Stone one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions.

For many visitors to Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone is the culmination of a lifelong ambition. However, achieving this goal is not for the faint-hearted. Firstly visitors climb 109 steps to reach the top of a 90-foot-high tower. Then they must hold onto two iron railings and lie across a gap in the parapet and before planting a kiss on the stone while upside down.

Keeper of Blarney Stone John Dineen is on hand to assist whoever is brave enough to obtain the gift of immortal eloquence. A number of people are scared they are going to slip through the gap or something terrible will happen to them. However, the only casualty on John’s watch has been the loss of a wig which fell from the head of a woman while she was kissing the stone.  

People believe they will be different after they have kissed the Blarney Stone.

If they at least attempt touch it they feel something magical is going to happen to them, they’re really impressed by it.

Canadian tourists Fiona and Jennifer felt compelled to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the stone.

I feel much more eloquent now, I feel like I have the gift of the gab and I can continue talking forever I’m sure.

Since 1874 the Colthurst family have been the owners of Blarney Castle and its surrounding grounds. Present owner Charles Colthurst utilises the money brought in by tourism to cover the high costs involved in repairing, maintaining and improving the Castle and grounds for the public and international tourists.

Charles hopes for a year on year increase in tourism and despite of a dip in visitors in 1987, he is optimistic about the future. The Blarney Stone has spawned a thriving tourist industry in Blarney and he believes there is an untapped tourist market in Japan and China.

Charles is not sure where the Blarney Stone’s myth originated from but says Queen Elizabeth I introduced the word blarney into the English language, meaning talk which aims to charm, flatter, or persuade.

There are many stories, whichever one suits you, you can take away and believe.

This ‘Evening Extra’ report was broadcast on 22 January 1988. The reporter is Aonghus McAnally.