Hello everyone! Well, last week I promised you a visit to one of County Antrim’s most famous landmarks… And here we are! Plunkett is especially excited – this attraction does have a very geological slant.
He’s just spotted it there in the distance… The Giant’s Causeway! Time to rush over for a closer peek.
“Look at these basalt columns, Paddy! Incredible!”
Normally Paddy is left stony-faced by Plunkett’s enthusiasm for rocks, but even he has to admit that this is pretty cool.
Even more so when he hears about how they got here. Volcanoes are always awesome, even if they happened 60 million years ago! And this is just the beginning.
As you get closer to the sea, the grass and plants disappear and you can see the hexagonal stone columns all the more clearly. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of more than 40,000 of these hexagons, neatly stacked together!
And while Plunkett admires the stones, Paddy has been learning about how this place got its name. It turns out there are lots of myths and legends about the Giant’s Causeway! Early people apparently had a lot of fun figuring out how the stones came to look this way.
The most popular story, and the one I learned as a child, is that local giant Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill in Irish, and you’ll come across lots of alternative spellings that fall somewhere in between the two as well) had an ongoing rivalry with another giant who lived across the water in Scotland. After a few rounds of long distance name-calling and threats, Finn decided to kick things up a gear, and he built a series of stepping stones – the Giant’s Causeway – so he could cross the sea and challenge Benandonner, the Scottish giant, to a physical fight.
Unfortunately, the downside of exchanging insults across a stretch of ocean is that it makes it tricky to gauge the size and strength of your opponent. Once in Scotland, Finn discovered that Benandonner was a good bit bigger than he’d expected. Oh well, never mind. There was still time to leg it back across the causeway, breaking it up on the way so that Benandonner couldn’t follow him. Right?
Benandonner spotted Finn, and started chasing him home. And Finn would have taken a giant-sized beating, had he not been married to a smart lady called Oonagh. She had the genius idea of wrapping her big-mouth husband in blankets, and popping him in an oversized crib – which she’d apparently been keeping in the house for just this sort of eventuality. When Benandonner showed up at the door, she invited him in, and introduced him to her sweet little baby boy. Thinking that Finn in disguise was his rival’s son, and in that case that he was the one who would most likely come up short in a fight, Benandonner turned tail and ran. Nice one, Oonagh!
Fortunately, the boys didn’t see any warring giants on the day they visited.
And yes, you are allowed to walk on the stones! The lads took full advantage of that.
“Nearly there, Plunkett!”
“Aaaaah! It’s actually quite comfortable up here.”
Then there was just time to grab a couple more photos…
… Before heading off.
“Come on Paddy, we don’t want to miss our train home!”
Made it! And with seconds to spare!
See you all next time!
Beastie Travel Guide
Access to the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site is free, as long as you arrive on foot. If you drive there, expect to pay a hefty fee to park your car in the Visitor Centre car park! The Giant’s Causeway & Bushmills Railway train takes about half an hour to travel from Bushmills to near the Causeway. That means you can sit back and enjoy the scenery… And sneakily avoid paying for parking by using their free car park at the Bushmills station.
16 thoughts on “Tales of the Giant’s Causeway, with Paddy and Plunkett”
This was the final destination for the Mini car rally I took part in in 2004 – it really is a special place, as was the Bushmills Distillery! Looks like everyone had a great time! 🙂
Oh wow, that sounds amazing! I’m going to keep the Mini rally a secret from Paddy though, or he’ll want to compete himself 😂 Thanks for swinging by, Jon – hope the post brought back some happy (if a little whiskey-hazy) memories!
What a remarkable formation and an equally remarkable story of how it was made
Thanks, Mariss! No Northern Irish childhood is complete without a school trip to this fascinating landscape so it’s nice to share it with the wider world 😊 Cheers for swinging by!
Bah, now you’re really making me regret we didn’t make it north on our Irish jaunt. I’ve always loved the story of the causeway (as you might have guessed from the naming of Finn McSpool) :))
I just want to know how much whiskey they had to bribe the person with who counted all 40,000 stones.
Ah, sorry about that. You’ll just have to make another trip, I suppose! And after revisiting the story of Finn McCool for this post, I’m starting to wonder if he and Mr McSpool do share more than a name. Big mouth, always getting into trouble… Sound familiar?
As for counting the stones, I reckon that’s a local hazing ritual for first-year geology students 😂 Cheers for dropping in, Tammie! Don’t forget to book those plane tickets!
Those two have so much fun together. Glad they didn’t come across a giant! Thank you for taking me on the journey. I would never have had the opportunity if it were not for you.
Thanks, Cindy! The boys were SO lucky to get this visit in before the latest lockdown happened! Maybe when things go back to normal you might get a chance to see it in person, but thanks for joining us through the wonders of the internet in the meantime! 😊
Fascinating place that we were lucky enough to visit when in NI for my college room mate’s wedding many years ago. Brought back good memories. Thank you!
Yay! I’m glad the boys were able to remind you of your past visit, Jackie! It’s certainly a very unusual and interesting place. Thanks for joining us! 😊
Ooh thanks for the tip. I am definitely visiting the causeway at some point!
Definitely do! It’s only a short hop across the water for you, once we can all travel again. In the meantime, cheers for taking the Beastie tour, Hannah!
Thank you for this, it lifted my spirits immensely! I really love Plunkett’s matching hat/vest outfit, it’s really dapper!
Heehee, happy to help out! And Plunkett is a very stylish fellow, isn’t he? I wish I looked that good in tweed 😂 Thanks for swinging by!
So that’s how the Causeway came to be. I have always marveled at this place; I remember first reading about it in a ‘wonders of the world’ book as kid, and have always wanted to see it in person! Now my dreams have come (near) true. Thanks for sharing the splendid tale and awesome pictures. The causeway rocks. 🙂 (And glad to know that you avoided the overpriced parking!).
Thanks, Shirley! Yes, Beasties are thrifty creatures indeed and always manage to scoop a bargain when they travel 😊 And how great that you had already made the acquaintance of the Giant’s Causeway… A little place little Northern Ireland could easily get lost in this big ol’world of ours, so isn’t it lucky we have geology on our side? The causeway really does rock 😂 Cheers for swinging by!