Near the village of Blarney, in Ireland, about 8 km north-west of the small city of Cork, lies the Blarney Castle. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. It is said that anyone who kisses the stone is endowed with “the gift of the gab” or skill at flattery. Millions of tourist including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have climbed the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Just how long this custom has been practiced or how it originated is not known, but the tradition seems to have begun in the late 18th century.
Kissing the Blarney Stone is for some people a difficult physical feat. In the past, to kiss the Stone the participant must ascend to the castle’s peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge while an assistant held the person by the ankles. Later, the parapet was fitted with wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars, but the ritual can still trigger attacks of acrophobia, an extreme or irrational fear of heights.
This article originally appeared on Amusing Planet