The beauty of dilated pupils and other such blarney


A garden at Blarney Castle contains a collection of poisonous plants, including deadly nightshade or Atropa belladonna. As is stated on the sign, “its name, belladonna, comes from its use by Venetian women to make themselves ‘beautiful ladies’ by causing their pupils to dilate.” It wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t for the often deadly side-effects ranging from difficulty in swallowing to vomiting, hallucinations and convulsions.

The garden, which contains other questionable plants including juniper, black cohosh, wolfsbane, wormwood and rhubarb (the leaves are toxic) sits just outside the famous Blarney Castle, the home of the Blarney Stone. Despite being well aware that the stone is kissed by several hundred visitors a day, we did partake in this particularly touristy activity!

The awkward and unflattering photographic proof of this mighty* feat will not be made public, so you’ll have to take my word for it – after all, I now am the beholder of magnificent powers of persuasion. (*You have to lie on your back, hold on to two poles behind you and scuffle upside-down in order to reach the Stone).

Entry to the castle costs 10 and you can wander around the area for several hours as there are dungeons, caves and plenty of luscious green gardens to see. Blarney is well sign-posted from Cork, which is about 8kms away. 


All images appearing on this blog ( may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2010

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