Land and Legend at The Giant’s Causeway

21 Feb


            Giants Causeway is a breath taking and beautiful sight. When I visited this past weekend, I could not help but feel taken away by this amazing piece of nature. Feeling this way, I was not surprised to find out that many myths and legends have emerged related to the Causeway. Although we now know that the Causeway was created by volcanic explosions years ago, the myth surrounding it stays alive through natives and remains a significant aspect of the mystery of Giant’s Causeway.

            One of the most prominent myths surrounding Giant’s Causeway is the myth of Finn MacCool and the giant Benandonner. The legend says that Benandonner was threatening Ireland, so Finn decided to fight him. in the legend, MacCool creates the Giant’s Causeway from rock on the shore to make a bridge to go fight Benandonner. However, when he realizes how big the giant is, he is frightened and runs away. MacCool’s wife hides him by placing a blanket on him and pretending he is a baby. When Benandonner sees MacCool, he is frightened because he thinks that if MacCool’s baby is that large, MacCool himself must be huge. Benandonner runs away, tearing up the Giant’s Causeway as he goes, leaving what we see today.

            Learning about this myth interested me, so I decided to do some more research into Celtic legend. I was interested to learn about many other legends and adventures surrounding Finn MacCool. I read some sections of a book called Mythology: Myths, Legends, and Fantasies and learned that Finn was a military leader and a wandering hero. He was first named Demne, but he was a very gifted child and was renamed Finn meaning “fair” or “shining”. The book also mentioned many of his other adventures. One I found particularly interesting was about Finn and the Fianna. The legend claims that the Fianna were first an elite band of warriors who supported the high king at the seat of Tara. Each year, Tara was attacked by an underworld demon and burned. The king of Tara asks Finn MacCool for help, and Finn agrees but asks to rule the Fianna as a reward if he succeeds. The king agrees, and Finn kills the demon. He takes the Fianna and they grow in strength under his command. The book also mentioned that it is believed that some aspects of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are based on this tale. It also mentioned that the political part “Fianna Fail” is named in honor of this mythical group.

            From this research, it became clear to me that legend and myth remain interwoven into Irish life and Irish places. The Causeway has become a place full of myth and legend, from the legend of Finn MacCool to the rusted pennies left between the rocks of the Causeway holding traveller’s wishes. The Giant’s Causeway remains a place where legend is kept alive and where people from all over the world come to marvel at the mysteries of the natural world.




Parker, Janet, Alice Mills, and Julie Stanton. Mythology: Myths, Legends, and Fantasies. Struik Publishers, 2007. 226-227. Google Books. 


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