Visiting with Giants

28 Nov

Of the many exceptional sights we were able to explore in Northern Ireland, the must stunning for me was The Giant’s Causeway. I had heard from some that it was considered to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” and my expectations were definitely met.

The Giant’s Causeway has two histories. One bases it’s story in scientific fact. The Causeway is said to have been formed anywhere from 50 to 60 million years ago. During that time the ground was fertile and vegetation was thriving. But under the Earth’s surface were constantly shifting slabs of rock called tectonic plates. The Causeway was formed when the plates conecting North America and Europe began to split apart. The cracks that began to form let magma from within the Earth’s surface to seep through. Once the lava came in contact with air and rock, it cooled and formed a solid mass called basalt.

The Causeway stayed this way for a few thousand years, before more cracks made by the shifting plates caused more lava to rise to the surface. This time it dried more slowly, creating columns that we climbed up this past weekend. These honeycomb shaped columns were hidden under the surface for thousands of years. Only after erosion over millions of years did the columns begin to show themselves. The end of the Ice Age also brought about the reveal of the columns with rising and falling tides, which left us with the coastline we see today. Most of the columns are six-sided, though a few have four and eight sides.

Much more interesting and far more entertaining is the mythology that is wrapped around The Giant’s Causeway. The story goes that there was an Irish giant named Finn McCool. He built the causeway as a path to Scotland to fight the Scottish giant named Bernandonner. But before Finn McCool crossed over to fight the Scottish giant, he fell asleep. This gave Bernandonner the opportunity to cross over to Ireland first. McCool’s wife Oonaugh saw Bernandonner and realized he was much larger and stronger than her husband. As a clever solution, Oonaugh wrapped McCool in a blanket and laid him in a cradle, passing him off as her baby. The Scottish giant then saw the gigantic size of the “baby” and could only guess the enormity of it’s father. This made Bernandonner run back to Scotland, destroying the causeway as he went.

For thousands of years people believed this story to be true. There is a matching causeway across the coast in Scotland to make the story even more believable.

It it were up to me, I would take the story of the warring giant’s any day.

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