Until now, it has been hard to find a detailed account of Blarney Castle. This book offers a new and fully comprehensive guide to Blarney, which will help the visitor's understanding of it as a building as well as providing much more for both the general and specialist reader. Using a mass of historical and archaeological material, which has never been assembled before, it provides a detailed account of the castle, its history and the three families who owned it.
The book describes Gaelic society and the castle's role within its clan organisation. A detailed history of the MacCarthy Muskerry clan charts their rise to power and their ultimate loss of Blarney after the battle of the Boyne. The families who owned the castle (the MacCarthys, the Jefferies and the Colthursts) are described, together with the major national and international events and social movements with which they were often intimately involved.
The cult of the "picturesque" and a growing interest in Irish traditions during the nineteenth century, together with the development of the railways, transformed Blarney from a derelict ruin to a major tourist attraction. Finally, the book attempts to illuminate some of the traditions surrounding the famous Blarney Stone.
Mark Samuel is an archaeologist and architectural historian who has studied Irish tower houses for more than 30 years. Kate Hamlyn is a freelance writer with an interest in history and archaeology.