The Giant’s Causeway / Antrim, Northern Ireland

There are three major things Northern Ireland is well-known for: the Belfast shipyard, where the Titanic was built with the tragic end we all know; the religious divisions that tore the country and eventually led to the Irish partition of 1921, establishing the Irish Free State (Southern Ireland) and Northern Ireland into two separate countries; and its amazing landscapes, featured in numerous series and movies such as Game of Thrones.

More specifically, when tourists visit Northern Ireland, they cannot miss a trip to the Giant’s Causeway (Irish: Clochán an Aifir), an amazing geological formation located 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) north from Belfast. There, on the Northern Irish shores, both wind and sea wash over volcanic stone pillars that all unbelievably bear the same hexagonal form. It is a true ‘from another world’ décor, said to have been shaped so some 50 million years ago.

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The Giant’s Causeway: built by titans? (Photo credit: Ireland.com)

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Finn links Ireland and Scotland. (Source: Vivre en Irlande)

A local legend holds that this landscape was built by the Irish giant Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) when he was challenged by his Scottish counterpart Benandonner from across the North Channel. Finn thus threw rocks into the sea so as to make way for both giants to engage in a titanic fight… He put all his might in this task, and fell asleep from tiredness right after the last stone of the path had been set.

The Scottish giant crossed the sea over the Giant’s Causeway, but when he set foot on Irish soil, Finn’s spouse, Onnagh, realized with horror that this opponent was terribly massive. There was no way her husband would win against such an impressive giant! Fortunately, she hit upon a good idea: she got sleepy Finn dressed as a baby and placed him in a cradle. When Benandonner knocked his rock-like fists at their door to teach Finn a lesson, Oonagh opened to him and said calmly: “Finn is not home yet; he’ll be back anytime soon. Please make yourself at home.”

Clenching his hands, the Scottish giant took a glimpse around, when he heard huge snores. Startled, he moved towards the source of the noise, and discovered the ‘baby’ in his cradle: when he saw the size of the kid, he could barely imagine how his father would look like – without further thinking, he run for the door and promised himself never to come back ever.

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Fingal’s Cave, Staffa Island, Scotland. (Photo credit: Kevin&Amanda)

When he fled, Benandonner destroyed the causeway after him, so as not to be followed by the supposedly-supersized Finn McCool. On the other side of the North Channel, at a location known as Fingal’s Cave on Staffa Island (Scotland), the same geological formations can also be observed, remnants of the Scottish giant’s terrified flight…

So next time you go visit Northern Ireland, just sit down one of these hexagonal stones and glance at the horizon: you may catch sight of Benandonner, keeping a good distance away from Irish shores.

You’re safe: the diaper-wearing Finn is watching over you.

 

 

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The Giant’s Causeway was notably featured in The Simpsons series (S20 #14) and as the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy. (Sources: GlobalFilmLocations & Wikipedia)

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