Fighting For A Giant Cause

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Imagine two feuding giants, Finn MacCool from Northern Ireland and Benandonner from Scotland, wanting to fight each other but can’t because they are separated by the sea. Benandonner has challenged Finn’s fighting ability and to prove his mettle, Finn throws a rock into the sea.


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Benandonner does the same, but his rock is engraved in a message that says, "I can’t fight you because I can’t swim."  Well, that’s his excuse.


Not to be taken for a ride (or for a swim), Finn angrily tears down great pieces of coastal volcanic rock and erects them into pillars. These pillars now form the famous Giant’s Causeway that stretches from Northern Ireland to Scotland.


Still engrossed in the memories of this legend, I am standing in Giant Finn’s footstep on Antrim’s coast in Northern Ireland. My friend tells me that on a clear day I can see the Scottish coast.


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I marvel at the hexagonal black basalt stones packed tightly together as if our giant Irish friend was a natural architect. Imagine 40,000 symmetrical columns sticking into the sea!


Now, you can choose to follow either fact or legend. While I would like to be live through various versions of the legend, even the romantic ones, I am curious to know how Giant’s Causeway was really formed.


65 million years ago, Antrim was rocked by intense igneous activity. It was the Middle Bassalt volcanic activity that formed the columns of Giant’s Causeway.  The rapidly cooling lava caused cracks and resulted in the symmetrical stones that we now see today.


Determined to relive the legend, I take the wooden staircase from the cliff top at the Benbane Head to the Giant’s Causeway.  I pass by some of the structures that my friend calls the Harp and the 12 meter high Giant’s Organ. In fact, there are many other structures such as the Wishing Chair, the Honeycomb, the Giant’s Loom and the Giant’s Grandmother that I don’t get to see. 


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I want to hop onto the Wishing Chair, where all dreams come true, but it would take my whole life to climb up there! 


Somehow, I think they forgot to mention the Giant’s Boot, discovered by me. As I sit on one rock that I think resembles his boot, I’m just hoping that Giant Finn won’t crystallize our of nowhere and take me for a ride on his boot!


In fact, if it hadn’t been for the cordoned off areas marked as dangerous site, perhaps due to eroding rocks, I’d have had the chance to see the structure nicknamed as Camel Hump. Imagine carving the Middle Eastern animal in rock to keep company with the mythical Giant of Northern Ireland!


As for me, as I retrace my tracks, I look behind once, to see if Scotland’s Giant is throwing a rock my way, with a message.


This time I hope it is a friendly message, as I make my plans to visit Scotland next.


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Preethi D’Sa

Author: Preethi DSa- UAE


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