Today we continue our five-part series on bookish and mysterious places in Ireland with Kerry Hammond's visit to the Poison Garden at the Blarney Castle.
During my recent trip to Ireland, I visited the famous Blarney Castle. After kissing the Blarney Stone, I made my way down the stone steps and came across The Murder Hole. You can read my blog post describing this Medieval defense here. I then wandered the grounds of the Castle, which were expansive and beautiful.
Behind the Castle structure, you can find the entrance to the Poison Garden. The garden was planted in order to educate visitors on poisonous plants that can be found in nature, some in our own everyday gardens. Many of the plants that we deem poisonous have been used through the ages for medicinal purposes, and some continue this use today.
“Physic Gardens” were commonly found throughout Europe in Medieval times. The castle signage described a Physic Garden as:
“A garden maintained for the study and cultivation of plants for medicinal purposes.”
Not all of the plants were flourishing during my visit, as March may not be the season for all of them, but some were visible. All were marked with a plaque explaining the plant’s description, its historic use, as well as modern. The plaque also explained what ingredient of the plant makes it poisonous and how the poison affects the human body. It also told of the mythical qualities of the plants, as well as the origin of the name.
The garden contained many of the poisonous plants that we, as mystery readers, hear about. Many an Agatha Christie book contains death by poison. It was fascinating to read about such plants as Hemlock, Wormwood, Yew, Foxglove, and Deadly Nightshade.
You can see Kerry's other posts in this series here.