Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built a causeway over the North Channel to meet and fight Scottish giant Benandonner. They’ve been rivals for some time. Finn was often taunted by Benandonner from afar. Finn finally challenged Benandonner and built the causeway to walk over to Scotland without getting wet. But he was terrified after seeing how big Benandonner actually was. He fled back home and asked his wife Oonagh to help him hide. A wise wife she was, she disguised Finn as a baby in a cradle. Benandonner crossed over the causeway to look for Finn. After seeing Oonagh and Finn’s ‘baby’, Benandonner fled home in terror, assuming if that was the size of the baby, the father must be a giant of giant. Benandonner destroyed the Causeway as he went in case he was followed.
Who doesn’t like a fascinating legend about giants?
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the places that is hard not to get wowed. The vast amount of basalt columns* (40,000 of them at least) are lined up with mysterious order as far as we could see. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the Giant’s Causeway was named as one of the greatest natural wonders in the United Kingdom. It was quite unbelievable what I was seeing. If you are a bit of a geology nerd, you’ll be in your happy place on the Giant’s Causeway. Some light-colored columns reminded me of The Thing for some reason…
*Basalt column is a common volcanic feature and they occur in many scales and various forms. Columnar basalt happened during the cooling of a thick lava flow. If the flow cools rapidly, significant construction forces build up. Horizontal construction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillar-like structures which are also fractured horizontally into biscuits. In the Giant’s Causeway, most of the columns are hexagonal, and the tallest are 12 meters.
Just like the story, there are similar formations at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa.
Ireland is relatively small; visiting Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland can be arranged from Dublin in one day, which is perfect if you don’t have much time. There are many tour operators that run similar tours to the Giant’s Causeway, such as Extreme Ireland. It was a good way to learn about the history of the place. The 13-hour day trip usually includes Carrick-a-Rede road bridge and Belfast. Driving on your own is also another option which provides more flexibility. If you are interested in getting good photographs, aim to be there for sunrise or sunset. The cliffs are difficult to photograph under the mid-day sun. Although, this would be harder to arrange if you are going on a day trip from Dublin.
Here are photos from my day trip from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway, including Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Belfast.