The Myth of Giant’s Causeway: the Legend of Finn MacCool

28 Nov

Recently we visited the North of Ireland, where we learned not only about the history of the two major cities, Belfast and Derry, but a myth about how one of their natural wonders was formed: The Myth of Giant’s Causeway, the Legend of Finn MacCool. As with any ancient legend, it has been interpreted and retold in multiple variations, but a few key points of the story always remain. 

Finn MacCool was a giant warrior, going about his day when he looked across the ocean channel to Scotland and spotted a giant called Benandonner. Benandonner began shouting at Finn, and mocking him and his fighting abilities. Finn got angry and threw a rock at Benandonner, to which Benendonner threw one back and told Finn that he was luck he couldn’t swim because if he could Finn would be in trouble.This enraged Finn and he began tearing pieces of rock from the earth and building a causeway to Scotland. However because Finn was exhausted from spending so much time building the causeway he wanted to take a nap, but feared he wouldn’t have enough time to sleep before Benandonner crossed the causeway and looked for him. Finn and his wife decided that they would disguise him as a baby so that he could sleep. So when the Benandonner came over from Scotland shouting and looking for him, Finn’s wife offered him tea and a cake in which Finn’s wife had put some stones. When Benandonner ate the cake he broke one of his teeth, and thought about how tough Finn must be if he was able to eat that cake. When Benandonner began to look around, he finally spotted Finn, disguised as a baby sleeping in a cot. The Scottish Giant was shocked, and thought that if Finn’s baby was so large, Finn must be even larger. Terrified he left the house and ran back across the causeway, tearing it up behind him as he went so that Finn would not be able to easily follow.

I thought this story was entertaining, although now we know that Giant’s Causeway was formed by nature, this tale, and other ancient myths like it, shows the human tendency to want to be able to conceptualize things that we don’t know how to explain. 






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