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Did You Know? Blarney Castle

Ireland blarney castle flowersBlarney Castle is one of the most iconic images of Ireland. It is located in the small village of Blarney in County Cork and was built almost 600 years ago. The castle that we see today is actually the third castle that was built here.

The first Blarney Castle was built in 10th century. Two centuries later, around 1210, a stone fortification replaced the original wooden structure. In 1314, the King of Munster, Cormac McCarthy, gave Robert the Bruce of Scotland 5,000 soldiers to help him defeat England’s King Edward II in the Battle of Bannockburn. Bruce presented the McCarthy clan the Stone of Destiny which is the stone that was to become the Blarney Stone. The stone was placed in the Blarney Castle's battlement.

In 1446, King Dermot McCarthy demolished the stone structure and enlarged Blarney Castle. The McCarty Clan fought several rivals in order to maintain possession of the castle. Even after Queen Elizabeth I commissioned the Earl of Leicester in 1586 to take the land from the McCarthy Clan, the clan held onto Blarney Castle until the Confederate War (1641 to 1652). During the battle to take the castle, Oliver Cromwell’s General Broghill destroyed the tower wall with gunfire but when he entered the castle he found that everyone but two old servants had left via a cave. By the end of the war, Cromwell had seized several properties, massacred two-thirds of the Irish population and converted a most of the country to Protestantism.

However, Oliver Cromwell died in 1658. Blarney Castle was reclaimed in 1661 by the McCarthy clan after King Charles II ascended to the English throne. The family chieftain, Donough McCarthy, earned the title Earl of Clancarty. However, in 1688 Donough McCarthy joined the Jacobites of Scotland. During the 1690 battle for Cork, the Duke of Malborough took Donough McCarthy prisoner in the Tower of London. McCarthy escaped and fled to France to join his fellow Irish expatriates.

In the next two centuries, Blarney Castle changed ownership numerous times. In 1703, Sir Richard Payne, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland bought the land. But afraid that the McCarthy clan would return, he sold the land to the Governor of Cork City, Sir James Jefferyes. In 1874, Jefferyes’ son built a Georgian gothic house near the castle and started the beautifully landscaped garden that is known as the Rock Close today. In the 1800's, the Jefferyes family married into the Colthurst family. These descendants maintain ownership today.

Join Tour Host, Jo-Anne Tinlin, and her small group tour as they visit Blarney Castle and its beautiful gardens in July 2019. Details at "Exploring Ireland Coast.

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