Blarney kissers romancing wrong stone?
By Xinhua News Agency
Thursday, February 21, 2008
BEIJING, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Millions of tourists may have been romancing the wrong stone on a castle battlement in southern Ireland, according to media reports Thursday.
A legend said kissing the Blarney Stone on the castle, which had been practiced by about 400,000 tourists a year, was able to endow the kisser with the gift of great eloquence and skill at flattery.
But its authenticity was questioned by Mark Samuel, an archaeologist and architectural historian, and Kate Hamlyn, in a new book.
The stone only came into use for health and safety reasons in 1888, when people was dangled from the castle by two people holding their ankles to place their lips on the stone, said the authors.
"I'm not in a position to say the stone is worthless, I'm saying there's a real kernel of hard fact that there is a special bluestone," said Samuel.
However, the Blarney Castle backs up its claim about the gift of blarney with a long list of famous eloquent kissers, ranging from former British prime minister Winston Churchill to Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.
The Blarney Stone is a piece of the Stone of Scone or "Stone of Destiny," on which the kings of Scotland were crowned.
One legend says the Scone Stone is supposed to be the pillow stone used by the Biblical Jacob.
The part of the stone that came to Blarney was given to an Irish king, Cormac MacCarthy, by Scotland's king Robert the Bruce as a gift in gratitude for 4,000 Irish soldiers sent to aid Scotland when Robert defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
The Scone Stone was subsequently captured by the English and taken to Westminster Abbey in London. It was returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1996.
Today those who wish the gift of gab just need to lie on their back and, holding on to an iron railing, lean backwards from the parapet walk to smooch the stone.-Agencies
Editor: Mo Hong'e