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The Giants Causeway.



Sometimes described as the '8th Wonder of the World'.The Causeway's was formed by volcanic activity some 50-60 million years ago, during the Tertiary Period. Lava emerged from a volcano it lay in sheets which cooled slowly forming into about 40,000 polygonal columns of basalt, some of which are up to 15 metres high. The majority are hexagonal in shape, although some have four, five, seven and eight sides. Their diameters range from a few centimeters up to three meters, their surfaces are smooth, some convex and others concave; The overall steppingstone effect is thought to have been caused by a number of lava flows taking place at different periods of time.

Origin of the Name.
The name is derived from Irish mythology which gives us conflicting accounts although both agree that the causeway was built by the Ulster giant and warrior Fionn MacCumhain, or Finn McCool. One account states that Finn was in love with a lady giant who lived on the Hebridean Island of Staffa, incidentally Staffa has its own basalt formation similar to the Giants Causeway although on a much smaller scale. Diverging from the subject in hand, Mendelson visited Fingals cave on Staffa and was inspired to compose the well known piece 'The Hebrides Overture 1825'. Finn is said to have built the Causeway in an attempt to bring her from Staffa to Ulster.

The other version relates that Finn built the Causeway due to an ongoing argument with a Scottish giant named Benandonner. The two frequently engaged in verbal abuse across the Irish Sea. In one of these arguments Finn became enraged and scooped up a clump of land and flung it at Benandonner. His aim must have been a little off as the land fell in the sea and 'became' the Isle of Man, while the hole left in Ireland became Lough Neagh.

The argument continued and Finn decided to build the Causeway in order to fight Benandonner. Here again we get different versions, one suggests that Finn was afraid of Benandonner and fled when he saw the size of him. Arriving at the causeway and looking for a place to hide he chose the baby's crib. Benandonner was close behind and when he saw the size of the 'baby' he in turn fled saying that if that was the size of the baby what size would the father be?

Another of Finn's mighty throws is remembered in the folklore of County Down. (See Rostrevor)

The Bishop of Derry (Londonderry) appears to have been the first to have recorded the Causeway's existence in 1692.

The Antrim coast road leading to the north coast was not built until the 1830s. If you decide to spend a day exploring the causeway and surrounding area there is much to be seen, and exercise to be had if you are feeling energetic. A walk around the site amounts to about six kilometer's, taking in the 'Giant's Organ' which is a massive group of basalt clumps set in a cliff face, 'The Honeycomb' and 'The Wishing Well' etc.

The Giants Causeway.

Co Antrim
Tel +44(0)28 2073 1855
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A portion of the causeway was bequeathed to The National Trust in 1961, parts of it are privately owned but it is all open to the public. The causeway has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1968