Walking Among Giants
The Wild Atlantic Way is followed by a Causeway Coastal Route extending from Derry city to the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim. Breath-taking scenery will greet you as you make this exciting journey along the picturesque coast of Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of over 40,000 basalt columns. Geological studies of these formations over the last 300 years have greatly contributed to the development of the earth sciences, and show that this striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity some 50–60 million years ago.
Naturalist David Bellemy has described The Giant’s Causeway as the jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim. This site of World Heritage is ranked alongside Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for its importance. It is today the habitat of rare plants and animals. We ask that you please treat their home with the pride and the care it deserves. For centuries, countless visitors have marvelled at the majesty and mystery of the Giants Causeway. At the heart of one of Europe’s most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire. To stroll on the Giants Causeway is to voyage back in time. Your imagination will travel along stepping stones that lead to either the creative turbulence of a bygone volcanic age or into the mists and legends of the past.
According to legend, the 40,000 or more basalt columns that can be seen here, are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the
Irish giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from
the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged
to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel, so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner and in another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He ees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava ow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.
The Irish name of the Giant’s Causeway, Clochán na bhFomhóraigh or Clochán na bhFomhórach means “stepping stones of the Fomhóraigh”. The Fomhóraigh are a race of supernatural beings in Irish mythology who were sometimes described as giants.