Scientists say that 55 to 65 million years ago, the North of Ireland was subject to volcanic activity, and that molten lava cooled rapidly, creating fractures in the rock that looked like giant stone pillars, some reaching a height of nearly 40 feet.
It made a vivid pattern in the rock…
…and was such a unique natural phenomenon that in 1986 UNESCO named it World Heritage Site.
But if you ask me, that’s a bunch of blarney. Better yet, ask any local. He’ll tell you what really happened is that a giant named Finn MacCool was building a causeway to Scotland.
A Scottish giant named Benandonner tracked Finn to the causeway, looking for a fight. He wanted to prove he was the greatest giant of them all. He had already tracked down and beaten every other giant in Ireland, and Benandonner wanted to serve up Finn with the same sauce.
He hurried home to his wife Oonagh. “Don’t worry, darlin’,” she told Finn. “We’ll serve him up as good as he brings.” She dressed Finn in a baby bonnet and put him in a giant wooden cradle. Then she baked 27 loaves of bread with 27 iron griddles baked into them, and one good loaf of bread. When Benandonner arrived looking for Finn, Oonagh said, “He’s off to the Giants’ Causeway, to make paste out of some buffoon of a giant named Benandonner. But come in and I’ll feed you the bread I prepared for Finn.” Oonagh gave Benandonner a loaf with a griddle baked into it, and he broke three teeth on it. “Take it away or I’ll not have a good tooth left in me head!” he shouted.
“It’s just the way Finn likes it, nice and crunchy,” said Oonagh. “Perhaps that one’s stale.” Then she gave ‘Baby Finn’ the one good loaf. When Benandonner saw him gobble it down, he shouted, “Sure I haven’t a chance against the giant whose baby can eat the bread that nearly broke my jaw!”
Oonagh smiled as she watched Benandonner racing helter skelter down Knockmany Hill. “When brains are called for,” she told Finn, “brawn won’t help.”
If you go to The Giants’ Causeway in Antrim, remember that you are walking in a land where giants once tread.
And never forget that many a man besides Finn MacCool would find himself in a pretty scrape, if not for his wife!
All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck