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Return of kissing stirs up a Blarney


As Ireland slowly relaxes its pandemic-era restrictions, one curious custom has returned to life with a flurry of controversy—kissing the Blarney Stone. Critics say the practice requires too much close contact and possible exposure.

The stone, part of an arch at the top of 15th century Blarney Castle in County Cork, is alleged to confer the gift of gab on those who kiss it, a task that requires bending backwards over a gap in the wall to kiss the underside of the stone. Apparently no other part of the stone has the mystical power, and assistance is needed to kiss the bottom as seen in the image above.

Legend says that when the proprietor of the castle saved a 15th century witch from drowning, she told him that if he kissed the stone he would achieve eloquence and lose his speech defect. The present owner, Charles Colthurst, is a lineal descendant, and gave the stone its first post-virus kiss.

Colthurst promised limits on the number of visitors and kissers; the stone will be disinfected between kisses, and the person holding the kisser will be wearing a face shield and gloves.

Photo: Brian Rosner/Wikimedia

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