The Giant's Causeway

Giants CausewayThe Giant’s Causeway on the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland is a place of unique natural beauty that has inspired myth and legend right up to the present day – it was the setting for the tumultuous final scene of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.

The Causeway is made up of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were created when lava flow met the sea during the Paleogenic period. Though most of these columns are hexagonal there are some columns with four, five, seven and even eights, all staggered at different heights and situations, giving the impression to ancient eyes that there were more than just the forces of nature at work in its creation.

Consequently many legends have sprung up about the Causeway, the most famous being the one that lends its name – the legend of the giant Finn McCool.

The story goes that Finn built the Causeway to cross the sea in order to fight his Scottish counterpart, Benandonner. Finn fell asleep and his wife laid a blanket over him, to protect the Irish giant from the Scot who had grown tired waiting for Finn, and so crossed the Causeway to Ireland. However, when Benandonner saw Finn under the blanket he thought it was McCool's son. Surprised at the size of the ‘baby’, the Scot turned tail and fled before his ‘father’ turned up.

Due to the location of the Giant's Causeway – beside the unforgiving Irish Sea – much of the Causeway has succumbed to the effects of weathering, causing the shaping of rocks and columns to resemble objects: the Organ, so named as it resembles the pipes of an organ; the Giant’s Boot, the shape of which is quite self-explanatory; the Giant’s Harp: Chimney Stacks; Giant’s gate, and the Camel’s Hump all add to the air of legend and mystery that pervades amidst the isolated ruins, coastal fields and kelp walls.

Today the Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (declared in 1986) and is a popular UK attraction – certainly the most well-known in Northern Ireland. Visitors can walk across the columns by the side of the sea, and while there is no official visitors centre (the last one burned down in 2000), the area is still fenced off and an entrance fee is in place.

There are a number of accommodation options in the nearby countryside, ranging from hotels and guesthouses in the higher price-bracket, to caravans and campsites for those who like to keep things a little more natural.