Kissing the Blareny Stone in
Ireland could give you more than
just the gift of the gab after it
was named as the world's most
unhygienic tourist attraction.
Researchers said the Stone,
kissed by up to 400,000 people a
year, rates as the most
germ-filled of sites - although it
admitted it had no scientific
evidence to back its case.
Local legend has it that visitors
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1. He is kissing the Blarney Stone.
2. The "Gift of Gab"
3. The Adventure of the Blarney Stone,
a radio drama that aired on March 18, 1946.
|Answer to Quiz #336
December 25, 2011
|1. What is this man doing?
2. What does he hope to receive for doing it?
3. What Sherlock Holmes story took place here?
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|Comments from Our Readers
Boy, I had a tough time with this one! Mainly because I could not figure out what was
going on in the photo. Finally, I zoomed in and I realized he was kissing the stone
which naturally brought 'kissing the blarney stone' to mind.
My goodness - leaning over the castle parapet backwards? No, thank you! I think I'll
pass and stick to my 'gabless' ways! :) Cate Bloomquist
Recognized this one right away, my parents were just there in the spring of 2009. Local
lore here in NYC, from some of my "really Irish" friends claim that locals who live by
the Castle urinate on the stone...Not sure if it's true, but it didn't stop my parents from
making it a priority on their trip to the "Emerald Isle". Probably a little bit of an Irish
"urban legend" but while doing research on this, I got quite a few hits on search
parameters "Blarney Stone Urination" on Google and this is covered pretty extensively
on Snopes.com and some of the Ireland tourist sites. I just hope that this is not a
picture of you trying to "grab the gift of eloquence" . . Ha Ha. Have a great weekend
and a Happy New Year !!! Robert E. Steinmann Jr.
N.B. I am glad you are just telling me this now and not when I was there in the
1970s. Well it seems you'd have to aim and hit a target a few feet away. I am not an
expert on these things, but it seems physically unlikely. - Q. Gen.
The prone person is kissing the Blarney Stone which is in one of the machicolations of
Blarney Castle located in County Cork, Ireland. A person who kisses the Blarney Stone
hopes to receive the "Gift of the Gab"; or great eloquence or skill at flattery.
N.B. "Machicolations"? Did you just win a Scrabble tournament or something? I
am going to have to look that one up.... - Q. Gen.
I had never heard or seen the word “machicolation” before this week. To solve the
quiz, I searched on “Irish castle external openings” and there was a photo similar to the
quiz photo which led me to the this week’s answers and gave me a new word to add to
my vocabulary. I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to use my new word in my lifetime,
though, unless I get into a conversation with someone concerning castle fortifications.
No, we did not kiss the Blarney Stone although we did climb up to see it. I figured I
would embarrass myself by being unable to get back up should I lie down there. If I
had known it really worked, maybe I might have thrown aside my inhibitions and gone
for it. Margaret Waterman
That was the fastest quiz ever! I did have to look up the Sherlock Holmes story.
Hi Colleen! I got this one on the second try - thought it took place in England so I
Googled images of "man bending over backwards + England" and believe it or not a
similar pic showed up on the first page. Yay!
You need to save one Irish puzzle for the week of March 17 - ha. I think I'd rather have
peace and happiness than a gift of gab! Nicole Blank
I was quite fascinated by last week's quiz and did some reading about New Grange. It
made sense, timing wise, that the photo involved the solstice. I first wondered if it had
to do with Mayan ruins in Mexico (such as Tulum or Coba). I am planning a trip there
in 2 weeks. Anyway the recent photos are really involving us in Irish history. I
showed this week's photo to my wife Pat and she responded 'I know exactly where
Pat has been there and kissed the stone. She said that it is kind of gross to think of
doing it where thousands of others have also mouthed the stone. I wonder if they clean
it or provide post kissing lip sanitizer. Don Draper
Somewhere in my past I must have seen a similar picture because I knew what was
happening at once. It was not hard to find other pictures to let me know I was
on the right track. Donna Jolley
The Adventure of the Blarney Stone was Sherlock Holmes' outing in Co. Cork. This
was only produced as a Radio Show and not a Film. Pity. Alan Cullinan
The Blarney Stone seems to be the only thing most people in the States know about
Ireland. About twelve years ago, I spent about three weeks hiking and touring there. I
walked the Ring of Kerry, road a skiff out to Skellig Michael (now there's an
adventure!), visited my greatgrandmother's home village and had a pint at the Guinness
brewery. Cork was not on my itinerary. When I got home, all people wanted to know
was whether I'd kissed the Blarney Stone! Margaret Paxton
Of the many, many puzzles I've solved; this was THE easiest. I've not yet gone to
Ireland, but as soon as I saw the photo I Googled 'Kissing the Blarney Stone' and
BINGO. To easy but it was Christmas and the Qmaster gave us a present.
I always wondered about how sanitary kissing the stone would be and, a couple of
the sites I looked at, said, 'The Blarney Stone is ranked as the most unhygienic
tourist attraction in the world.' Not only would I not want to hang over
nothing like that I don't think I want my lips going where who knows how many
other lips have been. Milene Rawlinson
I visited here in 1998 and my parents visited here in 1976. Mike Dalton
I have been to Ireland and it was raining like cats and dogs that morning so we couldn’t
kiss the stone. I’m not sure I would have liked being in that position anyway! I’m Irish
on my father’s side and come from a very nearby tiny town (two hundred years ago).
I've always wanted to kiss the Blarney stone but haven't had the chance to.
My sister actually kissed the Blarney Stone - that was how I solved this puzzle so
easily. I can remember how she told that she had to be upside-down ... and it stuck in
And, Colleen, you are like me ... I don't believe that neither you nor I needed the
Blarney Stone for our "gift"!! Elaine C. Hebert
Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought
to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it
became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used
as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a
kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for
kings. It was also said to be the deathbed
pillow of St Columba on the island of
Iona. Legend says it was then removed to
mainland Scotland, where it served as the
prophetic power of royal succession, the
Stone of Destiny.
When Cormac MacCarthy, King of
Munster, sent five thousand men to
support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of
the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a
portion of the historic Stone was given by
the Scots in gratitude – and returned to
Others say it may be a stone brought back
to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone
of Ezel’ behind which David hid on
Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his
enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone
that gushed water when struck by Moses.
Whatever the truth of its origin, it was
probably a witch saved from drowning
who revealed its power to the MacCarthys.
The Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na
Blarnan) is a block of bluestone built into
the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney,
about 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Cork,
Ireland. According to legend, kissing the
stone endows the kisser with the gift of
the gab (great eloquence or skill at
flattery). The stone was set into a tower
of the castle in 1446. The castle is a
popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting
visitors from all over the world to kiss the
stone and tour the castle and its gardens.
The word blarney has come to mean
"clever, flattering, or coaxing talk".
Other Legands of Its Origins
Another early story involves the goddess
Clíodhna. Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the
builder of Blarney Castle, being involved in
a lawsuit, appealed to Clíodhna for her
assistance. She told MacCarthy to kiss the
first stone he found in the morning on his
way to court, and he did so, with the
result that he pleaded his case with great
eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney
Stone is said to impart "the ability to
deceive without offending." MacCarthy
then incorporated it into the parapet of the
The proprietors of Blarney Castle list
several other explanations of the origins of
the stone on their website. Many of these
suppose that the stone had previously been
in Ireland, was taken to Scotland and then
returned to Ireland in 1314. The stories
listed include one suggesting that the stone
was presented to Cormac McCarthy by
Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of
his support in the Battle of Bannockburn.
This legend holds that this was a piece of
the Stone of Scone and was installed at
McCarthy's castle of Blarney. Although
colourful, this folk legend does not
account for that fact that it supposes that
the stone was removed from Scotland 18
years before Bannockburn.
Kissing the stone in 1897, before the
safeguards were installed.
View of the Blarney Stone from the
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone,
according to the castle's proprietors, has
been performed by "millions of people",
including "world statesmen, literary giants
[and] legends of the silver screen". The
kiss, however, is not casually achieved.
To touch the stone with one's lips, the
participant must ascend to the castle's
peak, then lean over backwards on the
parapet's edge. This is traditionally
achieved with the help of an assistant.
Although the parapet is now fitted with
wrought-iron guide rails and protective
crossbars, the ritual can still trigger
attacks of acrophobia, an extreme or
irrational fear of heights.
In 2009, Tripadvisor.com ranked the
Blarney Stone as the most unhygienic
MacCarthy, Lords of Muskry
From Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of
the Irish Nation, by John O'Hart
Armorial Bearings: Same as those of the
CORMAC MACCARTHY MOR, Prince of
Desmond (see the MacCarthy Mór Stem, No.
115,) had a second son, Dermod Mór, of Muscry
( now "Muskerry") who was the ancestor of
MacCarthy, lords of Muscry, and earls of Clan
tourist attraction in the world (although it admitted it had no scientific evidence to back
Before the safeguards were installed, the kiss was performed with real risk to life and
limb, as participants were grasped by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height. In
the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatisation "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" (first
broadcast March 18, 1946), a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his
death. Holmes' investigation reveals this as a murder, the man's boots having been
surreptitiously greased before the attempt.
William Henry Hurlbert wrote in 1888 that the legend of the stone seemed to be less
than a hundred years old at that time, suggesting the tradition began late in the 18th
century. The legend of the Blarney stone was described in A classical dictionary of the
vulgar tongue by Francis Grose, printed 1785.
|Pedigree of the McCarthy, Lords of Muskry
who bend over backwards to kiss the stone built into Blarney Castle, near Cork,
Ireland, are rewarded with the 'gift of the gab'.
But internet travel website TripAdvisor.com believes those who kiss the stone are likely
to end up with something else other than fluent speech as it is so germ ridden.
A wall outside a theatre in Seattle, Washington, was placed runner-up in the competition.
Since 1990, tens of thousands of people have stuck their unwanted chewing gum to the
wall turning it into a tourist attraction.
The act began with people waiting in line to visit the theatre. The wall has been
scrapped clean twice since 1990 but is still covered with gum.
Some visitors have even moulded shapes and faces out of their gum.Oscar Wilde's
tomb in Paris is the third dirtiest attraction having been covered with lipstick prints.
St Marks Square in Venice, Italy, is fourth due to the thousands of hungry pigeons who
descend on the place leaving behind their waste.
The handprints and footprints of stars outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood
makes the top five.
According to Tripadvisor the historical Hollywood landmark is covered with grim from
the hands of countless visitors who see if their hands and feet match those of the stars.