Thursday, April 09, 2009

BLARNEY CASTLE, County Cork: murder hole

Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland

Blarney for most is a delightful experience. Famous castle. See blarneycastle.ie.  Such a fine place to come back to the parking lot, and find the luggage gone. Infamous to us.

A little theft to spice the day.

So, let it go, contact the police, do the forms, it all works out. Buy another chapstick. For stolen or lost passports, here are the contacts: travel.state.gov/law/info/info_623. There are ways to expedite. See passportsandvisas.com/passport/lost.asp.

Parking lot protocol.  Never, ever, leave a window cracked open even a little. And put away the maps and junk.

You will be identifiable as a tourist from the license plate, but you will be a less stupid one. At least one of you keep cash, a plane ticket and passport in a waistpack. If you do see a red van in the lot, with people eying you out of darkened windows, park instead right at the ticket booth. The lady is in my tan 9 1/2 hiking boots.

And now:  The Stone.  Blarney is famous for its Blarney stone, and there really is one.

 Dan Widing at the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Here is a site for the history of the stone, and the gift of gab it bestows: sacredsites.com/europe/ireland/blarney_stone.

Don't even think how many lips have kissed that thing. Just be romantic. We cheered our immune systems on. We worried not a whit about germs in the great outdoors.

But far better for our historical research purposes is the Murder Hole: See castlesontheweb.com/glossary.





Dan Widing at the Murder Hole, Blarney Castle, Ireland

This bit of architectural military defense brilliance is just inside the portcullis, the grated big gate that lowers just over the drawbridge.

There is a matching grated gate about 20 feet beyond, before you get into the main courtyard. You are trapped. Then, look up.

There is a hole up there. And people about to pour boiling water and oil and rocks, and sling arrows upon your head.

In some castles, the tale tells of the women in the solarium, the large room on the sun-side of the castle, looking down to the great hall beneath, and with big fireplaces for themselves and children.  The women heated the water and hurled the stones as needed.

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