International tourism is big business. While much of the world was forced to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic, prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus international tourism was thriving.
A report from the World Tourism Organization in January 2020 found that 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded across the globe in 2019. That marked a 4 percent increase over the previous year.
Ireland is a popular tourist destination for people across the globe. A country with a rich history that is steeped in tradition, Ireland annually welcomes people from all over the globe.
Tourist attractions abound throughout the Emerald Isle, and few are as popular as the famed Blarney Stone. When visiting the Blarney Stone, which is located on the grounds of Blarney Castle, visitors are urged to kiss the stone. But why?
The exact origins of the tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone are unknown, but History.com notes the practice dates back several centuries. Legend suggests kissing the stone helps people become more eloquent and persuasive, and indeed numerous accomplished orators, including former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, are among the millions of people who have kissed the stone over the centuries.
Kissing the stone is no small feat, though it has become easier to do so in recent years. Prior to 2000, visitors to Blarney Castle who wanted to kiss the stone had to pull off an acrobatic feat without much support, leaning over backwards while lying down on their backs as the upper part of their bodies hung over the parapet’s edge. However, guardrails were installed in 2000 to give visitors something to grab onto as they lean over the edge and kiss the stone.
Visitors to Ireland who want to kiss the Blarney Stone can expect to wait to do so. While the Blarney Castle gardens remained open to visitors during the pandemic, the tradition of kissing the stone was closed. And when that tradition is allowed once again, visitors should expect a line, as an estimated 400,000 people kiss the stone each year.