At last my first Irish kiss - alas dear reader it’s the Blarney Stone

Those who kiss the stone are bless with the 'gift of the gab'
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I'm in the single most precarious position of my life: flat on my back, hands clutching two iron poles, with my butt actually sliding off the ramparts of a castle – and I'm straining to get even further out into the void. Are you seeing this? Me, dangling upside down with my legs over my head, suspended hundreds of feet above the ground? Not the most graceful situation I've ever been in, I can tell you that.

It's for a worthy cause, though, because today I'm kissing the Blarney Stone.

Right now, as a matter of fact. I stretch as far as I can and press my mouth to the shiny patch of stone, and the attendant yanks me up before I can slide to my death. My lips tingle as I climb to my feet. This is it. I have just been newly reincarnated as a superb orator, worthy of Congress at the very least. Call the Senate!

Okay, I'm joking – but kissing the Blarney Stone really is supposed to give you “the gift of the gab,” or the ability to spout divine eloquence and wit. It sounds like an idiotic tourist trap, I know, but consider this: my lips have been preceded by the lips of hundreds of worthy speakers, including dozens of famous American and European politicians (Winston Churchill, anyone?). In fact, people have been kissing this stone in documented cases for over two hundred years. Its gift of smooth speaking dates back even further; Queen Elizabeth herself supposedly coveted this castle, only to be thwarted by the suave words of its lord. She coined the expression “what a bunch of Blarney” in her disgust.

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It is with a sense of this impressive history that my friends and I decided a trip to Blarney was necessary. We even suffered through the trauma of purchasing tickets at the main Cork bus station (where, we learned in distress, they charge you thirty cents to use the bathroom. We were righteously indignant over this).

I stand back and snap pictures as, one by one, my friends also lie back and dangle themselves off the edge of the castle. Watching them purse their lips, it belatedly occurs to me just how many tourists have preceded us. How frequently do they sanitize this stone? Or does that diminish its powers?

I decide not to think about it.

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