Ireland is an enchanting place and one of the interesting facts about Ireland is that the lines between fantasy and reality are often blurred, and it is at times difficult to separate the two. Of the many enchanting places on the Emerald Isle, the Giant’s Causeway is one such place where the lines of myth and reality are blurred.
The Giant’s Causeway lies on the northernmost part of Northern Ireland, along the Antrim Coast. The site can be visited in just a few hours, and besides the magnificent seascapes, offers amazing geological formations which become the inflection point between myth and reality.
Scientific modernism would lead us to believe that these geologic formations were formed by volcanic activity coming in contact with the cold seas. Mesolithic mythology tells us that nothing is farther from the truth because here at the Giant’s Causeway, we find ruins and traces of the legendary Finn McCool; demigod warrior of ancient Ireland.
Entire volumes can be written of Finn McCool and his band of warriors, the Fianna. Finn himself was a demigod, being half human and half god as Finn’s mother was a goddess. The Giant’s Causeway is said to have been built by Finn (as well as destroyed) as a result of Finn’s encounter with the Scottish giant, Benandonner.
After throwing rocks and insults at each other across the narrow sea, Finn built the causeway out of stones from the nearby mountains to sneak up on Benandonner. Looking at what remains, (most is now underwater), the causeway does bear resemblance to a cobblestone street so this ancient tale is quite believable.
The tale goes on to say how Finn then ventured over to Scotland, and when he saw just how large Benandonner really was, he hurried back home to Ireland and quickly had his wife disguise him in baby clothes before Benandonner followed. Finn’s return was so hasty, that he lost one of his boots which can still be seen today.
When Benandonner knocked on Finn’s door, Finn’s wife let him in where he saw the ‘baby’ sleeping. Seeing how large the “baby” was (Finn in disguise), Benandonner was frightened to even imagine how much larger an adult would be and hurriedly ran home across the Causeway to Scotland, destroying it as he ran.
So is this tale one of many historical facts about Ireland, or mythological fantasy? You be the judge, but remember, to the Irish, reality and myth are sometimes one and the same! Regardless, on any visit to Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is a stop not to be missed.
For directions, opening hours and other useful information, visit the Giant’s Causeway visitors center website.
We visited on a beautiful sunny day and some of our photos are posted below for all to enjoy: