Saturday, June 13, 2015
Ireland - Southern Road Trip - Blarney Castle
Obviously, the main reason for visiting Blarney Castle and Gardens is to go up the Castle tower to kiss the Blarney Stone. But when we got there around noon and walked by the entrance to the tower, we were dismayed to find the lineup snaked down the multi-flights of stairs, out the door and along the path. The estimated wait time was a couple of hours or more!
The tour guide pointed out the hallway rug which had the same pattern as the key hole of the front door, the chandelier made of Waterford Crystal and the hallway end table which had a mirror positioned under the table instead of above it. In the 19th Century, this mirror was used by ladies with hoop skirts to confirm that their ankles were not showing (an olden day version of a wardrobe malfunction). I was most fascinated by a round rent table with drawers on all sides, each with sloped bottoms. This allowed renters to discretely place their money in a drawer and have it fall into a safe underneath the table.
A framed newspaper article told the fascinating history of William Horace de Vere Cole, dubbed the "Great Hoaxer", and explained his connection to Blarney Castle. Born to wealthy parents, Cole was a neighbour and close friend of the Colhurst family and claimed to have kissed the Blarney Stone at an early age. If the myth about the stone's powers are true, then maybe this allowed Cole to talk his way out of trouble for all of his pranks. Even as a child, he was full of mischief, wrecking havoc on governesses and playmates. This penchant for practical jokes culminated in his most well-known deception, now known as the Dreadnought Hoax. Along with five friends including the writer Virginia Woolf and her brother Adrian, Cole and his group disguised themselves as members of the Abyssinian Royal Family and secured an official visit on the battleship HMS Dreadnought. The crew of the Dreadnought bowed and catered to the group who spoke in a gibberish language that was a mix of Latin and Greek. After safely escaping from the ship, Cole later revealed the hoax by sending a photo of the "princes" to the Daily Mirror newspaper.