Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
There are not many countries left that have a good legend to tell. But Northern Ireland certainly does. It has the legend of the Giant’s Causeway.
Although the story varies slightly, it seems that two giants had a dispute. Those were the Irish Giant, Finn McCool, and the Scottish Giant, Benandonner.
They had gotten each other so angry, that the Scottish giant decided to go over to Ireland and sort the Irish giant out. He went across a piece of land that had joined the two countries (Scotland and Ireland are actually only 12 miles apart at the narrowest point).
When Finn McCool saw the Scottish giant approach and saw how big he was, he ran to his wife and asked her to hide him in the baby’s crib. When the Scottish giant approached the crib, McCool’s wife asked him not to disturb the baby, who was sleeping.
On seeing the size of the “baby” the Scottish giant, Benandonner, thought the father must be huge indeed and ran quickly back to Scotland, ripping up the piece of land, or causeway, in his wake so he could not be followed.
This ripped up stony area is what is known today as the Giant’s Causeway. The legend made one Irish youngster, Stephen Limavady age 9, quip, “We may not have the biggest giants in Ireland, but we have the smartest!”
The area has been called the 8th wonder of the world and the coast road to the Giant’s Causeway is said to be one of the five most beautiful drives on the planet.
Of course you can always go for the more “serious” explanation of how the Giant’s Causeway started, an area which has now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That explanation says that those thousands of hexagonally-shaed basalt colums, some of which are up to 160 meters high, were formed 60 million years ago from volcanic lava.
Personally, I prefer the story of the two giants, don’t you?
In any case, as you stand gazing over the towering tubes in awe, the sense of geological violence that must have taken place in this area all those years ago is mind-boggling.
It certainly makes that legend of the two giants seem highly probable.
You can take a bus from the visitor’s center to the start of the Giant’s Causeway. Be aware that the rocks can be slippery, but the adventurous can walk through the formations to see the Ampitheater, the Organ and the Boot. See if you can find them as you explore.
When it comes down to it, Giant’s Causeway is a very apt name because these giant stones cause way more astonishment than you can imagine!
For a great place to stay close to the Causeway, check out the fabulous Bushmills Inn www.bushmillsinn.com.
If you have a giant, or even not so large, appetite, you would do well to dine at the highly acclaimed Ramore restaurant in nearby Portrush www.ramorerestaurant.com
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Re travel: San Francisco residents can fly to Northern Ireland from SFO International Airport. Deals can be found online at www.kayak.com
For more information, see www.discovernorthernireland.com
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