Know Before You Go: This is a ticketed walking opportunity. Kissing the Blarney Stone is optional. The stairs up to the Stone are very narrow, uneven, and quite steep and will not appeal to anyone suffering from claustrophobia. There are several trails on the grounds of Blarney Castle; we chose the Woodland Trail. Length: 2 miles depending on spurs you take. Time: 1 hour. Terrain: Crushed aggregate and lightly-trafficked paved path. Difficulty: Easy. Dog-friendly: No, dogs are not permitted on any part of the estate. Kid-friendly: Yes, but mind the kiddos on the top floor of the keep.
We almost skipped Blarney Castle because we were short on time and had heard mixed reviews, but a navigation error took us right by the grounds so we decided on a spur-of-the-moment visit. We were so glad we stopped! We toured the castle, kissed the stone, and then discovered the grounds around the castle contain several hiking trails that offer quiet beauty. We explored the Woodland Trail and a couple of spurs, including a path through several of the Castle’s famed gardens. This is a great way to enjoy the history of Ireland while getting a little exercise.
The castle was built in 1446 and is the third structure to exist on these lands. There are several theories about how the Blarney Stone gets its name, but the most popular is that its original owner saved a witch’s life. To repay him, she told him of the stone’s ability to bestow eloquence upon any who kissed it. The walk through the castle shows life in the 1400s, then leads outside to the castle grounds. The Woodland Trail takes you through the castle gardens - including a poison garden - along the Blarney River. It skirts a fern garden that contained several varieties of ferns. It then loops back on a lightly-trafficked road to the front of the castle. There are several interpretive signs that tell of the flora, fauna and history of the area. A fun way to combine history with an easy hike!