Northern Ireland: Giant’s Causeway

23 Dec

Giant’s Causeway, a huge natural space of land located in Northern Ireland, immediately became one of the most incredible things that I’ve seen while studying abroad in Europe. I was astounded at the stunning coastline, the interesting looking octagon-shaped rocks, the huge walls of grass dirt covered rocks hugging the path, and of course, the giant volcanic hole located within the first ten minutes of my walk. As I walked down the path, observing all of the natural beauty, I could definitely understand why Giant’s Causeway is considered the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Northern Ireland.

The Giant’s Causeway not only has an interesting factual history, it also has an extremely old legend behind it. The real history began about 65 million years ago, when volcanoes were active in this area of the world. At the Giant’s Causeway, there was an enormous lava plateau under the earth, and when it cooled down, the previously molten rocks formed the fantastic looking rock pillars. The rocks contained chalk, also known as white limestone; some of the white limestone can still be noticed on the rocks to this day.  Back 65 million years ago, when the continents were just a huge landmass known as Pangaea, the tectonic plates beneath where the causeway is located shifted, creating the ocean and volcanic activity. The lava that was produced from this activity spilled throughout the area, and as it cooled and dried, it created what we see today.

Although we now know the real story behind Giant’s Causeway, we cannot forget the legends that used to be known as the cause of the phenomenon. In the causeway legend, a giant, known as Fionn mac Cumhaill, lived peacefully in Ireland with his giant wife. In Scotland, however, a giant named Benandonner would bully and gibe Fionn, who, after a while of enduring it, finally decided to take action and built a causeway of stones to walk across en route to Scotland. However, Fionn had one glance at Benandonner and ran away in fear, even losing his boot, which is still present in Port Noffer to this day. However, the legend definitely does not end there. Fionn, realizing Benandonner was in pursuit of him, had his wife dress him up as a baby to hide him. Because of the size of the giant baby, Benandonner assumed that Fionn himself would be frighteningly enormous, so he took off back to Scotland, ruining the causeway just in case Fionn wanted to follow him.

Both of the stories definitely add interest to the beautiful Giant’s Causeway. I was glad to know the legend and the truth behind this incredible space of land. Visiting and walking through this area of Ireland has definitely been one of the highlights of my study abroad experience.


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