The Square – Calling a Spade a Spade!
Although Blarney Castle dates back to the 15th Century, it wasn’t until 1765 that Blarney Village took its place on the map. An industrial village, it was built specifically for the linen industry which was its sole reason for being.
The village green has stood sentry as the centre-point of Blarney Village for over 250 years. Although known worldwide for eloquence and persuasive flattering speech, even Blarney knows when to call a spade a spade; therefore the green is known locally as ‘The Square’…because it is!
‘The Square’ was designed as a focus for social activities for the mill workers and their families who lived in the houses you see surrounding the square today. The original square was not enclosed by a wall but was surrounded by a bank. Two paths met diagonally in the centre, where there was a lead statue of Neptune.
Get Your Bearings!
If you stand in ‘The Square’ looking towards the Protestant Church or the Muskerry Arms, you will be facing north, with Blarney Castle behind you to the south. The River Martin runs just behind the large green hedge on the south side of ‘The Square’ and serviced a number of smaller mills in Blarney especially before the advent of the railway. Blarney Castle Hotel is on your right and to the east – we will let you figure out where west is yourself!
Foresight or Four Sides?
Was it a case of foresight or lacking four sides? Originally, there were houses on all 4 sides of ‘The Square’. Later the ‘Muskerry Tram’ arrived to Blarney and the land and houses to the south of ‘The Square’ all became part of the railway. The houses had to go, but can still be seen on the old maps of Blarney. All that can be seen today is a hedge!
Picnics, Parties, Sports & Hangings!
The Square is owned by Blarney Castle and saw many picnics, parties and sports events over the years, as well as rallies and calls to action during Irelands’ troubled times- but there was also a hanging in this picturesque green, which poor old John Buckley would prefer to have missed!
- 1765 – Blarney began as an industrial village spread around a central village square.
- 1780’s – Parades of the Blarney Volunteer corps were held here in support of Free Trade and an independent Irish parliament.
- 1799 – A local man called John Buckley was executed by hanging from a gallows erected within The Square ( For more details see Stop 5.)
- 1814 – Blarney’s economic fortunes fluctuated over time; the roofs of the cottages were reported to have collapsed and the green was planted with wheat!
- 1884 – Sports meetings were held in the Square following the founding of the GAA in 1884, at which Blarney was represented, thus claiming the honour of being one of the oldest GAA clubs in Ireland!
- 2015 – Memorial plaque to honour Blarney locals killed in World War 1 erected on the North Gate of ‘The Square’ by Sir Charles Colthurst. It is thought that up to 40 locals died in The Great War.
- 2018 – ‘The Square’ is now used as a local amenity by locals and tourists alike, especially during the summer months.
The next stop on our tour tells us about Rev. Stopford and why he ran naked through the woods in the night.