THE SPREAD of coronavirus throughout Europe and the western world has resulted in a lot of cancellations, postponements and changes, but this is one we didn't see coming.
Ireland has closed schools, colleges and créches, have cancelled St Patrick's Day parades and have banned gatherings of over 100 people; pubs and restaurants have shut their doors and concerts have been cancelled.
Now the newest disruption to normal Irish life is the banning of kissing the Blarney Stone.
One of Ireland's oldest tourist traditions, the Blarney Stone and the Castle which surrounds it has been around since the 13th Century, and people have been kissing it to gain the Gift of the Gab for almost as long.
But for the first time in history, the spread of the new virus has caused those in charge to make the decision to "postpone" the kissing "until further notice".
Blarney Castle & Gardens took to social media to release a statement confirming the news, where they said:
"For the first time in our history the kissing of the Blarney Stone has been postponed until further notice.
"The castle & gardens are still open and we would like to reassure all our visitors that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe experience."
For the first time in our history the kissing of the Blarney Stone has been postponed until further notice.
The castle & gardens are still open and we would like to reassure all our visitors that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe experience.
— Blarney Castle & Gardens (@Blarney_Castle) March 13, 2020
In fairness, the germs which would have accumulated over hundreds of years of being kissed by random strangers all around the world means it's probably not the most hygienic of things in the first place, but with the rising threat of the virus it's certainly better to be safe than sorry.
We're sure people will be back kissing the ancient rock before too long.