“What did he say THIS time?” Demanded Queen Elizabeth I with a long suffering sigh as she leaned back in her massive throne.
Her ambassador, recently returned from Ireland, bowed low. “Your Majesty …”
“Yes, yes. Rise. Now speak.”
The ambassador launched into his report detailing how the MacCarthy had spoken all around the question of fealty to the Queen without actually committing.
The Queen’s scepter banged on the floor. “Enough! This is nothing but blarney!”
Thus, the legend goes, MacCarthy became the Earl of Blarney Castle in Ireland. A rock, commemorating this great gift of gab sits at the top of a tower at Blarney Castle. Pilgrims come from all over the world to kiss it, hoping this same glibness will be imparted to them.
Blarney Castle, Kissing the Stone
My sister Betsy and hubby Craig went to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone. This trek meant climbing skinny little stone steps to the very top of the tower. Why the stone is up there is beyond my comprehension. Maybe they didn’t want anyone else to acquire the gab gift?
You don’t just walk up to the stone and kiss it. Oh no! You must lay on your back, let them shove you over an open space (yes, where you can see the ground!). And still—you must contort to make your lips reach the cold stone. Upside down.
As Betsy and Craig exposed their lips to any manner of germs while kissing the Blarney Stone, Mom and I walked the ramparts. Imagine bows, arrows and boiling oil flying in from catapults. Phew! The north castle face does look a bit on the burnt side.
Gasp! Poison Gardens!
I might think twice before being the guest of some Nobleman in Medieval times. Some castles had stairways that went nowhere (“Let me show you to your room!”) except to a drop to the bottom of the castle from the top of the stairs.
Other castles, like Blarney, had poison gardens. Yessirree! (“Would you like a cup of tea?”)
Mom and I are gardeners. We love our flowers. We love to grow vegetables, too. With astonishment, we strolled through the Poison Garden planted right next to the ramparts. The signs warned us not to touch or smell any plants and to stay on the path. And what was in the Poison Garden? Omigosh! I can’t believe I am still alive!
Don’t these Bleeding Hearts look innocent?
Columbine, Bleeding Hearts, Rhubarb, Iris, Mint, Juniper, Lilies and even Tulips—these were all in the Poison Garden! There were other varieties as well. At home, we are cultivating these dishonorable poisonous plants in our gardens every year! I even watch for them to appear at the beginning of Spring. And when they do, I tenderly nurture them so they will bloom and be beautiful. That means I actually touch and smell them! Oh my (hand over forehead). Will this change my heart toward my dangerous plants? Well, no…I don’t think so. However, as much as I love tea, I will not be mixing parts of my beloved floras into teas and drinking them.
It’s good to go. It’s good to get home. Thank you for traveling with me over these last weeks. God is good.