The Emerald Isle: The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant's Causeway


I will begin by asking you the same question my tour guide Richie asked us when we boarded or tour bus for the day. Do you believe it was built by Giants or volcanoes?

The Giant’s Causeway is one of only two structures in the world that are the same. One is in Northern Ireland and the other is directly across the ocean in Scotland.  Have you ever experienced what it is like to stand on a natural structure that there are only two of in the world? It is a feeling that cannot be described, and until you have stood on such a structure, you will never know what it feels like.

Fortunately The Giant’s Causeway (both of them) have magically landed in two countries that are full of myths and legends, and fairy tales. The ancient people in both of these countries needed no help in contriving the beautiful story that is the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is approximately 40,000 perfectly carved basalt  columns of all different heights, in county Atrium on the far north-east coast, about 3 miles outside of Bushmills. The geologists will tell you that this marvelous structure and its twin across the pond were both formed by volcanoes. However, the locals and the legends will beg you to set aside your  truths and believe in the power of Giants.

The legend of The Giant’s Causeway (at least as it was told to me) is this:

“Fionn Mac Cumhaill was the leader of a band of Giants called FIANNA.  One day Fionn was staring across the sea and he saw an ugly giant on the coast of Scotland who was bigger and taller than himself. So, Fionn, who loved a challenge and a good fight, began to shout at the giant across the way. He began to call him a coward and tiny, and all sorts of things like that. Well, the Scottish giant, Benandonner, did not like this one bit. He was insulted, and down right pissed off.  Fionn wanted a fight, but Benandonner told him that he couldn’t swim and Fionn better be glad. So Fionn, being the stubborn man giant that he was decided to build a bridge so that Benandonner could come across the sea and they could have a good brawl.

Fionn began to lift giant stone columns out of the ground and hurl them toward Scotland. About halfway through the day he began to feel very tired and decided to head home and finish the bridge the next day. Just as he sat down to dinner with his wife, he heard the giant Benandonner begin to walk across the stones. With each hop from stone to stone, the earth shook underneath them.

His wife, a more intelligent and quite superior being went out behind the house. She filled a giant pig trough with beer and a sleeping potion. She brought it inside the house and forced Fionn to drink it, telling him it would calm him down, all the while Benandonner was getting closer by the step. Fionn drank the beer and suddenly began to feel woozy. He passed out, shaking the entire earth when he fell. His wife quickly wrapped him up in a bed sheet and put a bonnet on his head. She had just finished when there was a terrible pounding on the front door. She quickly opened it and there before her was the biggest giant she had ever seen.

“Where’s that whimp, Fionn?” He bellowed. She slapped him and informed him that if he was to wake her sleeping child he would have more than her angry husband to deal with. She brought him into the kitchen and he saw the baby.  It was the largest baby he had ever seen. He began to think that if this was the baby of the giant Fionn, that Fionn had to be the largest giant in the land by far. Benandonner was extremely scared at the sight of the baby and politely told the misses that he had some business at home and it was too bad Fionn had not been home.

Benandonner excused himself and once he made it out the front door, he ran for home at full speed, breaking apart the causeway Fionn had created the day before.”

This is the most popular version of the story of the Giant’s Causeway. I personally think the story of volcanoes is very suspicious. I think it is a bit odd that there are only two of these structures in the entire world, yet there are plenty of places with volcanoes. I am a member of the group of people that believes that this amazing, unique structure could not have been created by volcanoes, and was instead delicately crafted by a giant looking for a good fight.

I will end with the same question I asked you in the beginning: Do you believe it was built by giants or volcanoes?

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