The line between fantasy, myth and history are often quite fluid in Ireland. Of the many enchanting places throughout Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is one such place where the mythology intersects with the natural landscape.
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 tells us 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.
Volumes have been 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, (as well as destroyed), by Finn as a result of Finn’s encounter with the Scottish giant, Benandonner.
In the story, 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 can be quite believable to the imagination.
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 as a rock formation.
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 which is correct, science or the mythology? You get to 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.
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