Friday 13 January 2012


In 1602 a chap called George Carew was negotiating on behalf of Queen Elizabeth with various lords of Ireland, and trying to get them to come over to the English side. One of the lords with whom he was negotiating was Cormac MacDermot MacCarthy, the Lord of Blarney.

Blarney kept sort of saying that he possibly might help without actually giving any firm promises to Carew. This went on for so long that one day, when Carew was reporting to the Queen, she (according to legend) lost her temper and shouted "Blarney! Blarney! What he says he never means! It's the usual Blarney!"

Well, that might be the true story. But the legend then gets more complicated with the introduction of the Blarney Stone. This is a stone in Blarney Castle that (apparently) if kissed will give you forever the gift of the gab. However, this appears to be a tradition that only sprang up in the 18th century.

Double-however, the whole story about Queen Elizabeth (which is retailed in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) is a trifle strange as the OED doesn't record the word before 1766.

Which makes me think that the whole thing is a bunch of blarney.

File:Kissing the Blarney Stone 1897.jpg
The Inky Fool's lapiphilia was getting out of hand.


  1. Enjoying the blog. Got 'The Etymologicon' for Christmas and just started reading it, and loving every minute. Thanks.

  2. Yes us Irish have the Gift of the Gab (We Irish can talk for Ireland 😁