Blarney House

by Ann Lethbridge
It's not everyone who gets to sit on the floor in a Smiths' bookshop in Bluewater and have their photo taken with their book. All right, so the staff did look at me as if I was mad, but what the heck. My sister in law was just as thrilled as I was. And we went on to repeat the event in Waterstones.

I left bookmarks in every copy while I was there. So now I am wondering if anyone found one.

But to return to our topic for the day.

This is Blarney House. Built in 1874 it is by not stretch of the vivid imagination anything to do with the regency. But the guide was welcoming and the history fascinating. But what made it perfect was the Irish Government's decision to allow the owners to keep their home. Rather than have the equivalent of the National Trust take it over, an organization I respect highly, Ireland decided to help the original owners keep their home and live it in by a financial grant to help with upkeep on the condition that they open it to the public for a percentage of time each year.

Our guide informed us that the family sleep in the beds in the bedroom, that the dog hairs are quite the problem, and that they battle with the dust. Charmingly domestic.

The interior contains a lot of history about the family, a joining of the Jeffries and the Colthursts. It contains artifacts dating back through the ages. The house itself would make a wonderful centrepiece for a gothic novel, with its turrets and towers. The grounds were lovely and the weather turned gorgeous just for us.

Unbeleivably, next week is July and we will interrupt our trip to Ireland with our regular programming.

Until next time Happy Rambles.

Ireland and Blarney Castle

By Michele Ann Young

As we learned last day, Blarney could well have been one of our Regency characters must see places.

It is certainly fascinating, with its rock close containing everything from a fairy ring to a sacrificial alter. But for me it is always the castle itself that holds the attraction and what a visitor in the regency might have found of interest.

The castle is set on an eight metre cliff and dates back to the mid-15th century. This particular view shows the cliff foundation and a rather fine casemented oriel, the window of the room known as the earl's bed chamber. It really shows the wealth of this family MacCarthy.

Unfortunately, as with so many castles in England, Cromwell caused their downfall.

The stairs up to the top of the tower are very steep. They are also winding and narrow. A great setting for a gothic novel.

It is hard to imagine anyone climbing up there in the long slim skirts of the regency.

But the best part of climbing to the top was the view. This is what I really wanted to get a sense of, the countryside, the green. Isn't it beautiful.

But the best part of Blarney is yet to come. So until next time, Happy Rambles.

Ireland in the Regency

By Michele Ann Young

Our trip to the Emerald Isle began on a misty rainy late May day. Well we had expected rain, so we were not unduly perturbed. And because of that, the sun came out.

Our first stop was Blarney. Well no self respecting visitor can go to Ireland and no kiss the Blarney stone. Many famous people have done so, therefore why should I be embarrassed and if it help with my loquacity, then I'm all for it.

Okay, so probably no one else is impressed, but I must say leaning backwards with a huge drop below was quite unnerving. And people have been doing it for years. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab.

Hopefully that holds true for a gift of the pen too. Now what, you might ask does this have to do with the Regency. Well at least one famous man of regency times went to the castle Sir Walter Scott. A writer no less. And there is a rumour, unconfirmed, that Byron also kissed the stone. Well I am in alt.

And while we are at it, here is an entry The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Francis Grose)

‘Blarney’: He has licked the blarney stone; he deals in the wonderful, or tips us the traveller. The blarney stone is a triangular stone on the very top of an ancient castle of that name in the county of Cork in Ireland, extremely difficult of access; so that to have ascended to it, was considered as a proof of perseverance, courage, and agility, whereof many are supposed to claim the honour, who never achieved the adventure: and to tip the blarney, is figuratively used telling a marvellous story, or falsity; and also sometimes to express flattery. Irish.

We have pictures and more to show you of Blarney, but those must wait until next time.

Until then, Happy Rambles