Nostalgia: Looking back at one of Cork's most popular tourist attractions

Nostalgia: Looking back at one of Cork's most popular tourist attractions

Sheep farmers from New Zealand visit Blarney Castle, 1930.

Earlier this month, the owner of one of Cork's most popular tourist attractions called for increased supports for the industry amid a collapse in visitor numbers.

Sir Charles Colthurst, whose family owns and operates Blarney Castle and Gardens said Government and forbearance from creditors are vital to ensure the recovery of the industry.

"Right now, it is a matter of priorities.

"All our responsibilities will be fulfilled, and our business will trade successfully again when the restrictions are eventually lifted.

Sheep farmers from New Zealand visit Blarney Castle, 1930.
Sheep farmers from New Zealand visit Blarney Castle, 1930.

"The reality is that they cannot be fulfilled in the timeframe originally planned, as a result of an unforeseen and catastrophic change in circumstances.

"Unlike public tourist attractions where state funds flow freely into upkeep and maintenance, those in the private sector have to carry that weight alone," he said.

"I would ask the Government to consider a special package of measures to support businesses such as ours.

"We will again return to being significant contributors in terms of taxes, but not if our businesses are not supported in the meantime," he continued.

Garden fete in the grounds of Blarney Castle in 1928.
Garden fete in the grounds of Blarney Castle in 1928.

Delving through The Echo archives, there are a plethora of images through the decades of Blarney Castle.

The Castle, as viewed by the visitor today, is the third to have been erected on this site. 

The first, built in the tenth century, was a wooden structure, replaced by a stone structure in approximately 1210 AD. 

The third castle was built in 1446, of which the keep still remains standing.

"It was subsequently occupied at one time by Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, who is said to have supplied 4,000 men from Munster to supplement the forces of Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. 

Muskerry Hunt opening meet at Blarney Castle, 1935.
Muskerry Hunt opening meet at Blarney Castle, 1935.

"Legend has it that the latter king gave half of the Stone of Scone to MacCarthy in gratitude. 

"This, now known as the Blarney Stone, was incorporated in the battlements where it can now be kissed," the renowned tourist attraction details on its website.

Whilst there is some debate about the true origin story of the Stone, rumoured to bestow "the gift of the gab", it continues to be an immensely popular tourist attraction.

1930: A girl lies flat on the ground, in order to kiss the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle. Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
1930: A girl lies flat on the ground, in order to kiss the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle. Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

During the height of a normal summer season, Blarney Castle and Gardens would typically see as many as 65,000 tourists visit monthly.

"Whatever the truth of its origin [the Blarney Stone], we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys," the website states.

Over the years, the estate has changed hands many times. 

Members of the Racing Club de France rugby club on a visit to Blarney Castle, 1949.
Members of the Racing Club de France rugby club on a visit to Blarney Castle, 1949.

Previous owners include Donogh McCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarthy and Sir James St John Jefferyes, Governor of Cork in 1688, who passed it down to his son of the same name.

Members of the Jefferyes family built a mansion near the keep and laid out a garden known as Rock Close with an extensive collection of huge boulders and rocks.

Models and film unit at the top of Blarney Castle, 1952.
Models and film unit at the top of Blarney Castle, 1952.

These are believed to be arranged around druid remains from pre-historic times. 

In 1820 the house was accidentally destroyed by fire.

The Jefferyes intermarried in January 1846 with the Colthurst family.

A replacement Scottish baronial-style mansion, known as Blarney House, was built overlooking the nearby lake.

This was completed in 1874 and has been the family home ever since.

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