The word blarney has come to mean clever, flattering, or coaxing talk.
The stone is believed by some to be half of the original Stone of Scone, and said to have been presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn.
The proprietors of Blarney Castle list several alternative explanations for the origins of the Stone and its supposed powers, all of which suppose that the Stone had previously been in Ireland but was then taken to Scotland and returned to Ireland in 1314. The stories they list include:
The ritual of kissing the Blarney Stone, according to the castle's proprietors, has been performed by "millions of people", including "world statesmen, literary giants [and] legends of the silver screen." The kiss, however, is not casually achieved. To touch the stone with one's lips, the participant must ascend to the castle's peak, then lean over, backwards, on the parapet's edge. This is traditionally achieved with the help of an assistant. Although the parapet is now fitted with wrought iron guide rails and protective crossbars, the ritual can still trigger attacks of acrophobia.
Prior to the installation of the safeguards, the kiss was performed with real risk to life and limb, as participants were grasped by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height. In the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" (first broadcast March 18, 1946), a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. Holmes' investigation reveals this as a murder; the man's boots having been surreptitiously greased before the attempt.
William Henry Hurlbert wrote in 1888 that the legend of the stone seemed to be less than a hundred years old at that time, suggesting the tradition began late in the 18th century, or early in the 19th.
Echoing the supposed power of the stone, an Irish bard of the early nineteenth century, Francis Sylvester Mahony, added a number of (humorous) lines to Richard Milliken's "The Groves of Blarney". (Right)
According to tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building is a missing piece of the Blarney Stone. How this was determined is unknown.