'Brand Blarney' aims to spin a greater yarn
Locals in Blarney rallied to the call at the weekend when hundreds turned out for a series of historical re-enactments to mark the launch of a new heritage trail and map which, it is hoped, will increase visitor numbers to the Mid-Cork village.
'Brand Blarney' is a new group set up to promote tourism in the area. Chairwoman Deborah Maguire explained that they believe Blarney, as a brand, is owned by the local community and they have developed the heritage trail and map to enhance the experience for visitors to the village.
"With the heritage trail and map we want to increase visitor foot-fall and offer insights into the rich history of the village, from its growth as a MacCarthy stronghold in medieval times to its development as an industrial village with the establishment of the Blarney Woollen Mills in 1750," said Deborah.
The trail also includes places of more recent historical note, such as the Garda Station which, in its previous incarnation as an RIC Barracks, was the target of an unsuccessful bombing attack by the IRA from the adjacent Castle Hotel in June 1920 during the War of Independence, she added.
Indeed, that failed attack by the IRA, re-enacted by the local Men's Shed group, was one of the many re-enactments from Blarney's history that was staged by locals at the launch at the weekend of the trail and map which have been produced with the support of Cork County Council.
While the map and guides include details on the famine and the arrival of the railway to the village, it not surprisingly also includes some interesting information on the Blarney Stone, including some of the more famous figures, fictional and real, who kissed it to acquire the gift of the gab.
"Blarney Castle has been a popular destination since the early 19th century with Sir Walter Scott among the most notable early visitors when he came in 1825 while other notable visitors included Winston Churchill, Laurel & Hardy, Mick Jagger and one Bart Simpson," she said.
"So, clearly, Blarney has a lot of interesting stories to tell - both in relation to the castle but also from beyond the castle walls and our hope is that with this trail and map, we can not only attract more visitors to Blarney but get them to stay longer in the area."