Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.
ContentBLARNEY, a village, in the parish of GARRYCLOYNE, barony of EAST MUSKERRY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 5 miles (N. W. by W.) from Cork, containing 417 inhabitants.
It is situated on a river of the same name, over which is a handsome bridge of three arches, on the road from Cork to Kanturk, and comprises 57 houses, which are small but well built and slated. The noted castle of Blarney was built in 1446, by Cormac McCarthy, surnamed Laidir, who was descended in a direct line from the hereditary kings of Desmond or South Munster, and was equally distinguished by his extraordinary strength and feats of chivalry as by elegance and grace both of body and mind. It is situated on an isolated rock of limestone rising boldly over the junction of the rivers Blarney and Comane, and is the third castle occupying the site: the first was rather a hunting post of Dermot McCarthy, King of South Munster, and was built of timber; the second was built in the year 1200, and the present structure was raised on its foundations, which are still visible. In the reign of Elizabeth it was the strongest fortress in Munster, and at different periods withstood regular sieges, but was treacherously taken by Lord Broghill in 1646, and the army of King William demolished all the fortifications, leaving only the tower remaining. Donogh McCarthy, who commanded the forces of Munster, was first summoned to parliament in the reign of Elizabeth by the title of Baron of Blarney; and Chas. II., in 1638, conferred the title of Earl of Clancarthy on the head of this family, the last of whom was dispossessed after the siege of Limerick; and the estate, comprising all Muskerry, was forfeited to the crown for the earl's adherence to the cause of Jas. II. On the sale of the forfeited lands in 1692, the Hollow Sword Blade Company purchased all the land around this place, and more than 3000 acres in the parish were allotted to a member of the Company, and are now held by his descendant, George Putland, Esq., of Dublin. Justin McCarthy, of Carrignavar, the only lineal descendant of that family, holds a part of the ancient inheritance. The castle was purchased in 1701 by Sir James Jefferyes, governor of Cork, who son after erected a large and handsome house in front of it, which was the family residence for many years, but is now a picturesque ruin. The top of the castle commands a very fine view over a rich undulating tract intersected by the rivers Blarney, Comane, and Scorthonac, and bounded on the north-west by the lofty chain of the Boggra mountains.
On the east is the Comane bog, many years since an impenetrable wilderness, and the last receptacle for wolves in this part of the country: that river, which takes its name from its serpentine course, flows through the bog and joins the river Blarney under the walls of the castle; and their united waters receive a considerable accession from the Scorthonac, a rapid stream which rises in the Boggra mountains. The interest which both natives and strangers take in the castle arises more from a tradition connected with a stone in its north-eastern angle, about 20 feet from the top, than from any other circumstance: this stone, which bears an inscription in Latin recording the erection of the fortress, is called the "Blarney stone," and has given rise to the well known phrase of "Blarney," in reference to the notion that, if any one kisses it, he will ever after have a cajoling tongue and the art of flattery or of telling lies with unblushing effrontery. Few, however, venture upon this ceremony, from the danger in being lowered down to the stone by a rope from an insecure battlement 132 feet high. The "groves of Blarney" are of considerable extent and very interesting; and beneath the castle are some spacious natural caves, one of which was converted into a dungeon by some of its early proprietors: it is entered by a very strong door, near which is a solitary window scarcely admitting a ray of light, and there are several massive iron rings and bolts yet remaining. Stalactites and stalagmites of beautiful formation and very compact are found in these caves.
The village, though now of little importance, was once the most thriving in the county, and between the years 1765 and 1782, when the linen manufacture was carried on, had not less than 13 mills in operation, erected by Sir John Jefferyes, Esq., at an expense of about £20,000. The cotton trade was afterwards introduced and flourished for a time, but has decayed; and the only establishments now in operation are a spinning-mill belonging to M. Mahony, Esq., in which about 120 persons are employed in spinning and dyeing woolen yarn for the extensive camlet manufactory in Cork; and a paper-mill, erected by G. Jenkins, Esq., which employs about 170 persons. Sir. John Jefferyes, Esq., the proprietor of the village, has it in contemplation to rebuild it on an enlarged and improved plan. Just above it stands the parish church, which was repaired and enlarged in 1835, and is a very neat edifice. Fairs are held on Sept. 18th and Nov. 11th; here is a station of the constabulary police; and petty sessions are held on alternate Tuesdays.
A national school, capable of accommodating 500 children, was built in 1836, at an expense of £300, of which the Commissioners gave £90, the parishioners £11, and the Rev. M. Horgan, P.P., gave the remainder; and there is a dispensary.