Times Past with Brian Gabriel, Blarney & District Historical Society

Blarney’s Kissing Stone Rumoured Loan Offer of £100,000 – Owner’s Statement. It was reported in London on Thursday (25th August 1938) of last week that a London firm of solicitors had written a letter to Sir George Colthurst, owner of Blarney Castle, offering him £100,000 for a loan of the famous Blarney Kissing Stone for a period of twelve months. When a Press representative got into communication with Sir George on the Thursday afternoon the latter said: – “Yes, I have heard the story, but I do not know anything about the letter; it was not in my correspondence today.” “What would you do if such an offer was in the post?” Sir George was asked. “I would hate to part with the stone,” he replied. “In any event, I would want very substantial guarantees, indeed, before I dreamed of allowing anybody remove it for even the shortest space of time. I would be afraid it would never come back.” “I have had several offers for the stone during the past five or six years,” he said in reply to further questions, “but nothing came of any of them. I quite forget what the figures were, but I think one of them was £10,000 for a loan of the stone. This was made by an American. The present offer is the largest ever made, if it happens to be true.” Sir George added that the story appearing in an English paper about a piece of the stone being taken to New York for presentation to Mayor O’Brien in 1933 was “quite untrue, unless the stone was actually stolen for the presentation. Nobody is allowed chip pieces from the Blarney Stone.” It was stated in London later that the offer had been made on behalf of an American syndicate, several members of which will arrive in England within the next few weeks. The syndicate is most anxious to procure the stone, which would probably be put on view during the World’s Fair. It is the intention of the syndicate, according to a cross-Channel newspaper, to charge one dollar – roughly 4/- -a time to kiss the stone in America while it is there. Blarney heard the news with indignation that yet another effort to remove its most treasured possession from the Castle, where a fee of 1/- is at present charges for entering the Castle grounds and the Castle to kiss the stone, a performance which is supposed to ensure unfailing eloquence on all occasions. During the tourist season as many as 1,00 Americans have kissed the stone in one day. Thousands of post-cards, depicting the kissing of the stone, pass through the Trans-Atlantic mail each year and Blarney, with Killarney, constitutes one of the best-known attractions for tourists in the South of Ireland. The above article appeared in the Southern Star Sept 3rd 1938

Blarney Stone for Los Angeles American Syndicate accepts the Next Best Thing – Quarry Purchases Unsuccessful in their efforts to get the Blarney Stone, enterprising Americans are apparently content with the next best thing and on Saturday afternoon ten tons of Blarney stone in ten crates left Cork on the S.S. Kenmare, bound for Liverpool on the first stage of the journey to Los Angeles, California. The stone comes from the quarry of Mr. Timothy Cremin, farmer, which is situated about a quarter of a mile from Blarney Castle, and the famous Blarney Stone. It was purchased by an American syndicate headed by Mr. John C. Bodger of Los Angeles and it is only the first of many shipments which are expected to take place during the next few years. Already there is a further order for ten tons more in November. It appears that preliminary enquiry came addressed to a Dublin firm who transferred it to a Mr. Richard Humphreys, Haulage Contractor, John Street, Cork. The next stage was visit by Mr. Bodger, who is said to have a Hollywood residence and to own a 1,500-acre seed plantation in Los Angeles, and to Mr. Humphreys and Mr. Cremin. When interviewed by Press representatives, Mr. Humphreys was at first reluctant to divulge why the syndicate want ten tons of Blarney stone and ten tons more in November, not to mention prospective shipments in the course of time. Eventually, however, her said, “They want it for sentimental reasons.” The sentimental Americans do not want the price they are paying for the stone to be made public, but it is believed that they are paying much more than the usual 4/- per ton for it. At all events their sentiment costs them £5 per ton freight charges between Cork and Los Angeles which mean that the present shipment will be an expenditure of £50. Mr. Humphreys stated that Saturday’s despatch would be followed by a similar consignment in November and he was to await further instructions as to later shipments. He added, “Mr. Bodger told me the shipments may become quite an industry here, I understand he was acting on behalf of a Los Angeles business-men’s syndicate, on whose behalf I have learned that there will be a steady flow in the stone from this onwards.” The exported stone will not be “dressed” here or trimmed to specific sizes, but will be sent in the raw, uncut state that came from the quarry. Each of the crates held a ton. On Saturday, large crowds watched it being hoisted into the hold of the Kenmare which was due to arrive in Liverpool on Sunday at 11 a.m. or thereabouts. There were rumours on Saturday that the sentimental Mr. Bodger himself had arrived in Cork to convoy the shipment to Los Angeles, but Mr. Humphreys denied this, and Mr. Bodger did not put in an appearance at the quarry in Blarney when the last crate was being filled on Saturday morning or at the boat in the afternoon. Speculation is still rife as to what uses the syndicate will put their sentimental property. There is a volume of support for the belief that the3 syndicate will eventually have enough stone to build an actual size replica of Blarney Castle so that Los Angeles and California can kiss the stone in a real estate without travelling 7,000 miles to do so. Mr. Cremin, the owner of the quarry from which the stone was taken, said to a Press representative on Saturday – “There is enough stone in the quarry to build half a dozen castles twice as big as Blarney Castle. The stone is from the same seam as that from which the stone was taken to build Blarney Castle. Mr. Bodger insisted that the stone should be quarried as near as possible to the Castle and he was keen to reassure himself that it was of the same mineral content as the famous pile and in the Blarney Stone itself.” He also mentioned that it was incorrect to state that he had given the sole North American rights to the syndicate. “I will give them preference.” he said, “but I have not given them solo rights. All they own so far is ten tons which are on the boat today.” Asked what price the Americans were paying for the stone, Mr. Cremin answered ingenuously, “I don’t know. There has been no talk about that yet.” Mr. Anthony Eden, former British Foreign Secretary, arrived in Cork on Friday night of last week in the course of his tour of Ireland. Asked by a Press representative about the Blarney Castle, which is credited by tradition with the power of imparting extra eloquence on those who kiss it, Mr. Eden was both non-committal and vague. “I have not kissed it yet,” he said, “and I do not know if I will. I am leaving Cork to-morrow, you see.” When Mrs. Eden appeared on the scene a minute later, however, her husband remarked: “They want to know if you are going to kiss the Blarney Stone?” Without a second’s hesitation Mrs. Eden replied, “I have every intention of doing so.” Even this, however, would not change Mr. Eden’s outlook on Blarney and its powers of persuasion. He still said; “I do not know whether I will or not.” The above article appeared in the Southern Star of September 10th 1938

The next illustrated lecture of the Blarney and District Historical Society is on Thursday 6th April 2017 at 8pm in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál (Blarney Secondary School) titled ‘The Martin’ – History of a Local River’ the guest speaker is Librarian in Blarney Branch Cork County Library, Mr. Richard Forrest. The River Martin is the focus of the talk this evening. The origin of the river at the Lyradane Mountain approximately half way between Mallow and Blarney, it’s geography and course, it’s bridges, it’s human interaction, it’s industry and wild-life, it’s folklore and accidents and its tributaries as the river flows south through the village of Blarney will all be discussed Richard traces its interesting journey before it reaches the Shournagh River and then to the River Lee on its journey to the sea in Cork Harbour. Everybody welcome. Enquiries to Brian Gabriel 087 2153216 bg1@eircom.net

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