Ireland is a county that reprocesses itself through the mills of its imagination. But we all do. To understand the Irish, mere facts can never be enough … That’s why I spent my life as I did – because that was all I ever have owned, stories. Indeed, our story is finally all of us own. ~ Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney
The fairytale began as soon as we entered the gates to Blarney Castle in County Cork. Around each corner, through each archway, across each bridge, there were many stories filling in behind us. The history of the castle itself dates back to the 10th Century and we were shaded by trees that were 600 years old. Stories seeped from the weeping willows the barking frogs canopied by proud magnolia blossoms welcomed us. The only choice was to rush into every corner possible in the time we had to explore.
We scaled the narrow castle staircase built in the 1400s, holding the railing tightly with our right hands. Since castles were defended from the top-down, staircases were constructed in such a way that defenders had the advantage of using their right hand to wield their sword as they descended into battle.
As we came back into the light, we were on top of the world. With a rainbow as a canopy above us, we leaned backward to kiss the Blarney Stone, while suspended 170 feet above the castle grounds. The act is said to give the gift of eloquence to all who make the pilgrimage. We explored the murder holes where boiling water was dropped on unwanted visitors and inspected bird nests that we were high enough to peer down upon.
We eventually made our way into the gardens. We followed a red fox into the poisonous garden where Wolfsbane and Mandrake were marked with a skull and crossbones warning. The entire property was truly a place where knights and dragons, fairies and leprechauns, kings and queens, old and young, could not just witness the magic of Ireland but could feel spring bursting and crackling to life.
Blarney is the kind of place that reminded me that fairytales not only come true, but they are unfolding before us if we slow down enough to listen to the storyteller. As I turned the darkest corners and came into the most blinding light, I felt like I was not just reading the story but I was a part of it. The shadows, happy endings, and new beginnings all came into focus as I left my offering on the witches rock and ducked back through the stone gate.
As we wandered past the wishing steps, we learned that if you could walk all the way down backward with your eyes closed your wish would come true. As I closed my eyes surrounded by the fleeting warmth of the Irish spring, I experienced my wishes fulfilled and wondered what new dreams would emerge from such a magical place.