Ireland the land of Saints and Scholars goes hand in hand with the Shamrock and the Blarney Stone.
It was at the age of 16 years that, Maewyn Succat was kidnapped and sold into slavery to the Celts in Ireland. For 6 years he herded sheep as a shepard till he escaped and returned to Roman Britain. He then studied in France and returned as a missionary baptized and named "Patrick" to Celtic Ireland to teach the pagans there Christianity. Getting through to the pagans on what was the Father, Son and Holy Ghost showed not an easy task. The green weed of three leaves on one stem is what Patrick, used to demonstrate the Holy Trinity of three in one.
As Patrick began to Christianize the pagans they starting showing up at his Christian gatherings wearing the shamrock on their clothing. It became a national symbol of Ireland and has a lot of traditional and symbolic meanings to Ireland and the Irish. The Patron Saint of Ireland "St. Patrick" brought Christ's teachings to Ireland with the use of the shamrock. The shamrock has since been mentioned and used as an emblem in the history of Ireland from past to present.
The History of the Shamrock:
On March 17th the people of Ireland and the Irish elsewhere attend a special service which is the wearing of special badges and the "Drowning of the Shamrock". The shamrock is blessed and worn by the Irish. In 1681 Thomas Dinely described Saint Patrick's Day from his "Observations on a Tour through the Kingdom of Ireland". Ireland at this time was still governed by the British government. The Irish wore a cross on their hats made of pins or green threads.
Shamrock was worn by the very low income homes. This in turn was also the exchanging of reward from the landlord or master at the time to coin a phrase (the poor received coins from them). In return those that were Hansen would go onto the next town and spend it on alcohol. Hence, the other term for "Wetting or Drowning of the Shamrock".
In this tradition St. Patrick's followers would repeat this tradition of wetting or drowning the shamrock till the pubs closed. For the last drink of the night a sprig of shamrock would be put into the glass covered with whiskey and flung over the left shoulder for good luck!
The wearing of the cross and shamrock on Saint Patrick's day went from the hats to the pinning of the cross or shamrock with decorated and colorful threads on the clothes of the the boys and girls. The middle class wearing crosses and the impoverished or very low income wearing the shamrock.
Today it is a simple green rosette with either a harp or shamrock pinned onto the rosette. Adults and young adults prefer to pin a sprig of shamrock to their lapel of dress or jacket. The shamrock is a national emblem that shows faith as is the harp a national emblem to the Irish and Ireland on its national holiday March 17th.
The shamrock as a badge worn on the lapel on the Saint's Feast Day.
The shamrock was used as a emblem by the Irish Volunteers in the time of Grattan's Parliament in the 1770's and by The Act of Union.
The shamrock became so rebellious in its use as a emblem that in Queen Victoria's time the "Irish regiments were forbidden to display the shamrock. In that time period it became custom for the civilians to wear a paper cross colored red and green instead of the shamrock. Now, on St. Patrick's Day a member of the British Royal Family presents Shamrock to the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army.
Each spring the shamrock begins to spring and show itself for what grows wild in Ireland,
"May your blessings out number the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you,
Wherever you go!"
The Blarney Stone:
"The origins of the Blarney Stone and its magical properties are not precise or clear as it is legendary among those of Ireland in positions of power and leadership. Scholars are known to take the trip to kiss the blarney stone in order to receive the gift of eloquence, the gift of the gab, to be able to speak sweetly and convincingly. Politicians, Educators, Poets, Writers and Leaders are known for the trip as with all that travel to see Blarney Castle and kiss the stone".
It is hard to reach the stone as it is between the main castle wall and the parapet. The kissers of the stone have to lie on their backs and bend backward and downward while holding onto iron bars for support. Yet, to this day scholars from home and away every year make the trip while in Cork, Ireland to kiss the stone.
The History of The Blarney Stone:
The Blarney name is derived from the Irish word: "An Blarna" (The Plain). Blarney is the home of the 90 foot tall Blarney Castle. Northwest of the Irish village of Cork is the village of Blarney. The Blarney Castle was built in 1446 by Lord Cormac Laidhim McCarthy. The Blarney stone is located in the southern tower wall between the main castle wall and the parapet. Blarney Castle was originally a timber hunting lodge built in the 10th century. It was replaced by a sone castle in 1210. It was completed by Lord Cormac MacDermot-McCarthy in 1446.
As known to Irish History for centuries the English monarch always claimed the lands of the lords and ladies of Ireland. No different for Lord McCarthy and the Blarney Castle. Queen Elizabeth 1 sent a deputy to Cormac and demanded that he take the tenure of his lands from the Crown. Cormac in an effort to plea with the Queen set out to visit the Queen to pleas for his traditional right to his land. He was not fluent of the speech and was doubtful in succeeding.
He started out on his journey and shortly after he met an old woman who asked him why he looked so down. He told her of his delemma and the woman said: "Cormac, when Blarney Castle was built, one stone was put into place by a man who predited no would ever be able to touch it again. If you can kiss that stone, the gift of eloquence will be conferred upon you".
Cormac went and did so as the old woman said to do and was successful in kissing the stone. He then went and met with Queen Elizabeth 1 and was able to address the Queen with speech so soft and words so fair that, he won her favour. As a result for as long as he lived he would never have to renounce his right to his land.
The castle remained the ancestral stonghold of the McCarthy family until the arrival of Oliver Cromwell in 1646. Then fifteen years later was the arrival of King Charles II on the throne got the McCathys back in the castle. The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 led to all Irish chiefs been stripped of their power and titles that led to the McCarthys been forced to leave the Blarney Castle. In 1703, the castle was sold to Sir James Jefferyes, Governor of Cork. Now the castle is owned and managed by the Trustees of the Blarney Castle Estate.
The legend story tells of the tale: "That an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. When the king kissed the stone it gave him the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly with good comand as king".
The Blarney stone was set into a tower of the castle. To this day the castle is a popular site for tourist in Ireland. Since then the stone has become as much a pilgrim as a trail that is hard to get to, so to be able to acheive the kissing of the blarney stone.
Kissing the Blarney Stone on St. Patrick's Day enriches the effect of the gift of the gab as to the normal effect.
"The Legend of the Blarney Stone"
"There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh, he never misses,
To grow eloquent,
Tis he may clamber,
To a lady's chamber,
Or become a member,
Obtaining the gift of the gab with eloquent nature is a polititons wanting gift. Having a royal command of speaking sweetly and convincingly among those that show leadership or are of royal crest, has many bending over backwards to kiss the stone for added measure and traditional treasure.
With the shamrock been of Saintly treasure the blarney stone is for regal and power in speech to be heard and seen. Either way the two of old that even in this time period are still well sort after. Whether it is to go to Armagh to St. Patrick's Cathedral or Cork to the Blarney Castle it is a step back in time and a piece of history of Ireland in Legends and Truth.