Depending on who you believe, the Giant’s Causeway on the North coast of Ireland – an incredible 40,000 interlocking basalt columns – was either formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, or built by a local warrior on his way to Scotland. We prefer the legend because it’s easier for us to wrap our non-scientific minds around, and because it contains a character named ‘Finn McCool’.
As legend has it, McCool built the causeway so he could take on the renowned Scottish warrior, and bearer of a far less cool moniker, Benandonner. Finn’s cool exterior was soon tarnished, however, when he fell asleep and woke to see Benandonner approaching over the causeway. As Benandonner was much bigger than himself, Finn chose the slightly less-heroic option of asking his wife for help. Mrs McCool’s plan was to disguise her husband under a blanket. Upon mistaking Finn for ‘baby McCool’, the giant realised the father would be even larger than himself and so ran back to Scotland, ripping up the Causeway as he went.
While countless retellings may have distorted the tale over the years, there are a few certainties about the Giant’s Causeway. Here are a few…
• The Causeway received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986 for offering ‘superlative natural phenomena in an area of exceptional natural beauty.’
• It is Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction and, thanks to the National Trust’s stewardship, is completely free!
• Millions of years of exposure to the elements have shaped some of the Causeway’s more unique features, such as The Chimney Stacks and The Giant’s Boot.
Have you been to The Giant’s Causeway? Tell us about your experiences below!
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