P Chong – Thursday, 23 July 2015
Times may have passed & unretrievable, but good memories will always remain in our hearts.
In recalling memories, or to use the modern day expression of flashback, of my college days travel, my life experiences have no doubt been enriched culturally, historically & even poetically. Old England has much to offer by way of its grand minor homes, castles of the rich & famous in the days gone by.
Regrettably, because of time constraint & the lack of funds as a poor college student, I managed to visit Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, Tower of London, Windsor Castle (East Sussex,England) & Caernarfon Castle, a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales. In hindsight, the consoling thought is that I had that scholarship to be there in UK with the opportunity to travel.
In my list & no less known castle is the Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland. This is where my memory serves me best. I had ventured out with a college friend hitch-hiking in Ireland with the objective of being endowed with the “Gift of the Gab” by kissing the Blarney Stone.
For over 200 years, millions of pilgrims have visited the Blarney Castle. World statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the throng climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone thereby gaining the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story of origin still creates debate.
In the past, visitors like myself had to be held by the ankles and lowered head first over the battlements. It was quite scary. Today, with safety precautions hand-rails are provided. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence.
Stories & legends abound re the origin of the Blarney Stone, but whichever is the truth, I shall not pursue with them. Suffice to say, the ‘Gift of the Gab’ Blarney is celebrated the world over for a stone on the parapet that is said to endow whoever kisses it with the eternal gift of eloquence (in Irish ‘solabharthact’) – the ‘Gift of the Gab’.