The Giant's Causeway is a natural wonder consisting of some 40,000 basalt columns that extend out into the sea from the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. In addition, the Causeway is set in an unspoiled stretch of coastline, which offers spectacular scenery. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Causeway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
We are told that the Causeway was created in pre-historic times. A giant named Finn MacCool lived along the Antrim coast. Across the narrow sea that separates Ireland from Scotland, lived another giant called Benandonner. As giants were wont to do in those days, sight unseen Finn challenged Benandonner to a fight. He even offered to build a rock causeway linking Ireland and Scotland so that Berandonner could come over to Ireland for the contest.
Building the causeway tired Finn and he fell asleep after completing his task. His wife Oonagh wrapped Finn in a blanket as he slept.
She then heard footsteps thundering along the causeway and turned to see Berandonner, who was much bigger than Finn. Berandonner demanded to know Finn's whereabouts.
Realizing that Finn was no match for Berandonner, Oonagh replied, “Quiet or you will wake the baby,” gesturing toward the sleeping Finn.
Berandonner thought “if that is the size of the baby, the father must be huge.” He then retreated back home, tearing up the causeway as he fled. He left only the small portion in Ireland and a small portion in Scotland.
While this straightforward explanation has endured for centuries, some believe that the causeway is actually a natural phenomonon. Supposedly, the causeway's column-like structures were created 60 million years ago by the cooling of lava flows. The columns came about because of variations in the rate of cooling.
Traditionalists, however, point to other relics of Finn MacCool including the pipes of his organ embedded in the cliff face, the remains of his camel. the wishing chair and his boot down by the sea. Moreover, they insist that you stay long enough you will realize that this is a magical place.
Although many millions of years old, the Causeway only began to achieve an international reputation in the 17th century. In 1693, the Bishop of Derry “discovered” the Causeway while on a visit to the area. The following year, Sir Richard Bulkeley delivered a paper to the Royal Society on this “natural curiosity.” However, what really made the Causeway famous were a series of watercolors done by Irish artists Susna Drury, which were reproduced internationally. By the 19th century, the Causeway was a popular tourist site. To prevent further commercial exploitation of the site, it was placed in care of the National Trust in the 1960s.
An account of visiting the Causeway is next
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Above: The Causeway is composed of tightly packed columns of basalt.
Below: Seen from above, the columns look like hexagonal paving stones.
The Causeway site is full of unusual geological formations such as this petrified molten rock outcropping (above) and Finn MacCool's Organ (below)..
Cruise destination Ireland - Northern Ireland - Giant's Causeway - page one