The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone"

Saturday, 19 March 2016 15:00 Dave Truesdale

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes aired "The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" on March 18, 1946 as its St. Patrick's Day show, albeit a day after the actual holiday, hard and fast program schedules being what they were, and are. This iteration of Sherlock Holmes on radio ran from 1939-47 and featured famous Holmes and Watson film icons Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, respectively. This episode was numbered 210, and the end of the Rathbone/Bruce era would come to an end ten episodes later, when Rathbone would leave the series (as well as the Holmes' films) due to weariness and the desire to further his career by doing something different. Bruce would continue in his radio role as Watson for a time and then he too would step aside. While these two are most associated with the roles of Holmes and Watson, other radio duos of note would prove just as popular. But this week we showcase an episode from the most famous Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson team of them all, and it is a good one.

"The Adventure of the Blarney Stone" is as fascinating for its educational value as it is for the adventure itself. Few know the history of the Blarney Stone itself, beyond the fact that many people travel to Ireland to kiss it. The castle dates from the early 13th century, and the legend of the Blarney Stone holds that those who kiss it will be given the gift of eloquence. One must climb to the top of the castle (some 90 feet) and then be held by the feet as one leans over backwards to kiss the stone. Before guardrails were installed and safety measures instituted, many were known to have fallen to their deaths while attempting to kiss the stone. The grounds surrounding the now crumbling ruins are not all sunshine and light, but are surrounded with poisonous plants. According to wikipedia:

"Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens. There are paths touring the grounds with signs pointing out the various attractions such as several natural rock formations with fanciful names such as Druid's Circle, Witch's Cave and the Wishing Steps. The grounds include a poison garden with a number of poisonous plants, including wolfsbane, mandrake, ricin and opium, as well as cannabis."  A more complete  history of the Blarney Stone itself--and it is an interesting read to say the least, can be found here:

It is within this colorful background and history that Holmes and Watson are drawn to Blarney Castle and the infamous Blarney Stone located in Cork, southern Ireland near the Celtic Sea (see map), to solve a murder most foul. For several years prior to this episode, the radio scripts were penned by the team of Dennis Green and future Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction co-founder Anthony Boucher. They were responsible for this episode as well, but when Rathbone would leave at the end of the current season, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would come to an end (to be revived later under another name), and so would the writing team of Green and Boucher. The history of Sherlock Holmes on radio begins in 1930 and is due solely to the efforts of a female Sherlockian by the name of Edith Meiser, to whom all Holmes fans owe a tremendous debt. For more of her story and the history of Sherlock Holmes on radio, please visit one of our previous Holmes episodes, "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot," which we ran on November 23, 2013 here.

(Tourists kissing the Blarney Stone, circa 1897, before safeguards were installed)

Play Time: 31:24

{March of 1946 being the first Spring following the end of WW II, there was a spring in the steps of the neighborhood gang as they tripped down the sunny streets to the corner newsstand in search of their favorite magazines, of which the three below were but a few of many. Famous Fantastic Mysteries was bi-monthly, whereas both Planet Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories were quarterly--despite Thrilling Wonder squeezing in a monthly December issue following its Winter issue, to make five issues that year.}

[Left: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, April 1946 - Center: Planet Stories, Spring 1946 - Right: Thrilling Wonder, Winter 1946]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.