Giants Causeway - the stepping-stones created by an Irish giant

Giants Causeway (Irish: Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach) is a remarkable and beautiful place that is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature reserve. Located on the northern coast of County Antrim (Irish: Contae Aontroma) in the northeast of Ireland (Irish: Éire). The area is made up of about 40,000 interlocked basalt columns resulting from a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago. The majority of the columns are hexagonal, but others have a different number of sides.

It is also a place of ancient Irish myth and legend. In particular involving Fionn mac Cumhaill, a figure that also features in the mythologies of Scotland (Alba) and Isle of Man (Mannin). He appears in a number of different forms and many geographical features in Ireland and beyond are attributed to Fionn. One of the legends involving  Fionn mac Cumhaill is him as a giant. It was said that he built the Giant's Causeway as stepping-stones to reach Scotland in his conflict with the Scottish giant Benandonner.

However, Fionn had to retreat when he saw the huge size of Benandonner, who followed him to Ireland. With the help of his wife Oona the situation was saved. Fionn was disguised as a baby. When  Benandonner saw the baby he was shocked to see the size of the child and could only imagine how big his father must be. The deception continued when Oona made Benandonner a griddle-cake in which she had put some iron. He bites into the iron, chipping his teeth, after which Oona tells him that her husband eats the cakes easily. All of this gave Benandonner second thoughts. He retreated across the Giants Causeway smashing the stones as he went so that he could not be followed.

The Giants Causeway is a remarkable phenomena. Although the result from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, it is not a surprise that it is the place of legend and myth. With the tops of the columns seeming to form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and which disappear under the sea. Perfect for the legend of the battling giants. This remarkable geograhical feature is not the only result of the conflict between Fionn mac Cumhaill and Benandonner. Legend also has it that Fionn once scooped up a clump of Irish land and threw it towards his Scottish rival. The clump missed and landed in the middle of the Irish Sea. That clump of land became another Celtic nation, the Isle of Man (Mannin). The area in Ireland from which the clump of land was taken became Lough Neagh (Irish: Loch nEachach).

Location: Giants Causeway is on the northeast coast of Ireland about 2 miles from Bushmills (Irish: Muileann na Buaise) and 11 miles from Coleraine (Irish Cúil Rathain).

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