- A popular St. Patrick’s Day tradition that involves bending over backward to kiss a stone at the top of an Irish castle has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- In an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Ireland cancelled all St. Patrick’s Day parades and has limited mass public gatherings through March 29.
- As of March 16, Ireland has 223 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. In total, over 189,000 cases have been reported across 145 countries, the majority of which are in China.
- This is the first time in 600 years that visitors have been unable to kiss the mythical Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland.
- Legend has it has that the Blarney Stone bestows upon the kisser the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness.
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To contain the spread of the coronavirus, Ireland has cancelled parades and limited public gatherings through the end of March. Following suit, Blarney Castle, a popular tourist destination near Cork, has barred visitors from partaking in a cherished, 600-year-old tradition: kissing a mythical limestone block while upside down.
“This is a necessary step in the current climate, and for the first time in its history, no one will be kissing the Blarney Stone,” Charles Colthurst, owner of Blarney Castle, told the Associated Press.
For the first time in our history the kissing of the Blarney Stone has been postponed until further notice.
The castle & gardens are still open and we would like to reassure all our visitors that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe experience.
— Blarney Castle & Gardens (@Blarney_Castle) March 13, 2020
As of March 16, Ireland has 223 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Across Europe, an estimated 100 million people are in lockdown as countries impose travel bans, close down schools, and restrict large meetups.
In 2018, Blarney Castle was the 10th most visited destination in Ireland, drawing more than 460,000 visitors.
The Blarney Stone is the castle’s best-known attraction.
The stone, whose origins are debated, is believed to endow those that kiss it with the gift of eloquence, or “blarney.” It was installed in the castle in 1446.
The wait to kiss the stone can reach up to two hours.
Tales of a Backpacker
Originally, visitors wishing to kiss the Blarney Stone had to be suspended over the castle’s battlements by the ankles.
In time, adjustments were made so that visitors could simply lean backward while holding onto iron rails.
Famous personalities who have kissed the stone reportedly include Winston Churchill and comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.
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