Giant’s Causeway is a stunningly beautiful creation located at the very top of Ireland, in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim. The entire coastal route along the top of the country is breathtaking at times with the dramatic twists and colors of the deep blue sea against the lush green country. Undoubtedly, this was established as an Unesco World Heritage Site with over 40,000 hexagon-shaped, interlocking basalt columns leading to the sea.
There are two stories as to the creation of the Giant’s Causeway. One is the scientific explanation: it is the aftermath of a 60-million-year-old volcano that crashed, burned and cooled into all of those steps. And then there is the other explanation: A visit to the Giant’s Causeway offers a bit of folklore and fantasy with its legend of Irish giant, Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill). The millions of steps that create the natural wonder are thought to be the remains of the bridge that Finn built linking Ireland to Scotland. If your children liked the film Brave, they will love this story.
As the legend goes, Scottish giant Benandonner bated Finn across the sea, angering Finn so much that he threw pieces of land at him. He was so angry that he threw enough pieces of land that Benandonner could run across to Ireland. Finn, realizing his mistake, ran home and told his wife, Oonagh. Luckily, Oonagh was very smart and came up with a plan to fool the Scottish giant. She dressed Finn up like a baby and put him in a cot and told Benandonner that Finn was out but she was home with their baby. The Scottish giant seeing the large size of the baby, decided to get back to Scotland immediately. The legend says that in his rush to return he tore up the land between the two countries and hid in a cave changing his name to Fingal.
Touring the site on a clear day is like taking a walk into the sea. Everyone wants to climb on those honeycomb-shaped columns, some wandering a little too close, to see how far they can go. The crashing waves give not-so-subtle reminders now and again of just how far the sea will allow…
Take the audio tour describing all the spots along your walk. The guide is a delightful fellow who points out things like The Giant’s Boot and The Organ (see photo below) built into the mountain. It’s about 4 miles to do the complete walking tour but there are buses that will run you up to the main area and can pick you up along the way if tired (or too windy!). The walk can be at your own pace, taking in the wonder of the surrounding majesty. You will want to stop many times to snap photos and marvel at the creation around you.
Driving the Coastal Causeway Route is a must on your trip to the Giant’s Causeway. Visit the Nine Glens of Antrim, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and stop at one of the small, fishing villages along the way for a cup of soup and brown bread to warm you right up. And don’t forget to drive down to the nearby village of Bushmills for a taste at the oldest whiskey distillery in the world!
Whether you believe in the legend of Finn McCool or not, a visit to the Giant’s Causeway will make you wonder if all those signs are just a coincidence. Perhaps!
44 Causeway Road
Tel: (028) 2073 1855
The Giant’s Causeway is open every day except December 24-26. It opens every day at 9 a.m. but check for specific closing times each season.