Blarney Castle, Republic of Ireland

Blarney Castle sits north of Cork in the southern part of Ireland, its most famous for the Blarney stone which if kissed give you the gift of the gab! The castle is situated on an impressive estate where the entrance fee was part of our tour costs with Busabout / Shamrocker Adventures and we arrived early in order to beat the crowds (mainly tours with older clientele).

Blarney Castle, the Jewel of Southern Ireland Castles

There is a queue to enter the castle and kiss the blarney stone, to give an idea when we arrived it took 35 minutes for us to make our way (causally) through the castle up to the stone. However once we left I noted the line to kiss the stone extended well past a 2 hour mark, so early is essential to avoid a morning in queue and there is plenty of other things to see.

The main attraction… no not the sign!

The castle itself is quite a fascinating structure, while the walk up is enjoyable (yes lots of stairs and tight spaces) they have off shoots into the various rooms used by staff when it was a functional castle. Its a good idea if you can spare a few minutes to check out a few nooks and crannies as they are unique but also give you a bit of breathing room from the line of eager rock smootchers.

The Famous Blarney Stone – and protective rails and attendant.

Now if you don’t want to actually kiss the rock (I for instance did not) its still worth the climb for the amazing views of the grounds.

The poison gardens on the grounds is worth a wander around, if you are into botany or want to notch up your survivalist belt on which plants not to eat this is the place to do it.

A had a good giggle over how some of the plants were in tiny protected. Mandrake, Wolsbane, Nightshade… all deadly and in little cages; however, Cannabis (Marijuana) is kept in a playground sized bubble! Priorities…

Those yellow flowers looked so tasty!

On last glance back at the castle… through a rock… oh Ireland is the Emerald Island, but also the land of unique rocks.

Everyone has to get this photo… including me.

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, Tennessee (Part III)

In the River Journey building, you start your tour in the lower levels where there is a wonderful display of seahorses but first I had to get past the Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) which, I guess, was the display creature of the day. For those who need to know such things, the horseshoe crab is ‘bled’ to obtain Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) which is an aqueous extract of amoebocytes. LAL reacts with bacterial endotoxin or lipopolysaccharide and it is this reaction which is the basis of a test called the LAL test. The LAL test is used in the pharmaceutical industry to detect the presence of, or quantity of, gram negative bacteria endotoxins. Prior to acceptance of this test, a rabbit test was used for this quality testing purpose. When I was an inspector of parenteral drug manufacturing sites back in the ’70s, this LAL test was still considered a new test method and was still undergoing validation procedures in parallel to testing in rabbits. I think that the ladies showing me their horseshoe crab were a bit surprised that I knew this much about their horseshoe crab:-). I was surprised at how little I had forgotten in 30 years! LOL


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