Following our visit to Carrick-A-Rede last week (see here) we then went on to visit the Giant’s Causeway which is 7 miles to the west. It is perhaps the most famous site in Northern Ireland – it is a World Heritage Site and is owned and managed by the National Trust.
They were formed around 60 million years ago as a result of volcanic and geological activity. As the lava cooled it contracted and formed these shaped structures. There are identical Basalt columns across the sea near to Fingal’s Cave on Staffa in the Western Isles.
Many legends have arisen around the Giant’s Causeway – perhaps the most famous involves Fionn mac Cumhaill, who is now better known as Finn MacCool – the giant who lived there. The story goes that Fionn was challenged to a battle by the Scottish giant Benandonner (of Fingle’s Cave). As a result Fionn built the causeway across to Staffa so they could fight. However when he got there he realised Benandonner was a much bigger giant than him so he fled back to Ireland. Benandonner followed him so Fionn’s wife disguised him as a baby in a creche. When Benandonner see Fionn’s ‘son’ he then flees back to Staffa destroying the causeway as he goes, thinking that if Fionn’s son is that big Fionn himself must be huge!
In other versions Fionn is not a giant but a hero with supernatural powers. The National Trust makes much of the site’s magical qualities and they are not wrong to do so.
The National Trust’s award winning new visitor centre – I rather like it and it is very necessary as the site is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland receiving over 850,000 visitors per annum!