Giant's Causeway. Coast in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Giant's Causeway

Coast in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Giant's Causeway Photo © hleewell

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Giant's Causeway

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	Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway. Photo by unknown
The Giant's Causeway is the the number one tourist attraction in all of Northern Ireland. In 1986, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in the country, and in 2005, was voted the 4th best natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The site itself sits on the northern Atlantic coast and consists of approximately 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that were created in the Paleogene Period. The columns are said to be so perfect that from above they appear man-made.

While in this part of Northern Ireland, there is also a fair amount of interesting local flora and fauna. There are many seabirds that nest along the cliffs including the Razorbill, Cormorant, and Guillemot as well as an abundance of rare plant life including the Hare's Foot Treefoil, Vernal Squill, and Frog Orchids.

Steps to the Giant's Causeway. - Giant's
	Causeway
Steps to the Giant's Causeway.. Photo by Cord Cardinal

Creation

Giant's Causeway
	- Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway - Giant's Causeway. Photo by Lena
The Giant's Causeway was created from a volcanic eruption during the Paleocene Period some 50-60 million years ago. During this time County Antrim (Wikipedia Article) was full of volcanic activity and when the molten basalt met with the chalk beds, they formed the Thulean Plateau (Wikipedia
	Article). Over time, as the lava cooled it contracted and split much like when mud dries and cracks. The cracks spread down through the plateau and eventually created the basalt pillars that are seen today.

Mythology

The old Irish Legend believes that the steps were created by a giant named Fionn mac Cumhaill. Fionn was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant, Benandonner. The fight was accepted and Fionn mac Cumhail built the causeway across the ocean so that the two could meet. From here, the story begins to vary some. There is one tale where Fionn defeats Benandonner and another where Fionn hides as an infant and Benandonner is tricked into believing that if Fionn is an infant then his father must be the biggest giant of all giants and he flees in fear. As Benandonner dashes across the basalt columns back to Scotland, they are destroyed leaving the remainder in Northern Ireland. The matching set is known as Fingal's Cave in Scotland and is on the isle of Staffa.

In alternate mythology, the Giant's Causeway is called the Clochán na bhFomhórach, after the Fomorians. The Irish translation is "stepping stones of the Fomhórach". In ancient times, the Fomhórach were said to be a supernatural race sometimes described as giants that were potentially part of the pre-Christian pantheon. As there is no pre-Christian history of the Giant's Causeway, there is no way to know for certain if the two were associated.

Giant's Causeway - Giant's
	Causeway
Giant's Causeway - Giant's Causeway. Photo by Sean MacEntee

Getting There

The Giant's Causeway is a mere 3.2 kilometers from the nearest town of Bushmills. The drive is very simple. From Bushmills, on the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Main Street. Follow Main Street to Whitepark Rd/A2 and make a right hand turn. Continue on Whitepark Rd until Causeway Rd. Turn right onto Causeway Rd and follow it all the way to the Giant's Causeway.

If driving from Belfast, allow for an hour and a half each way.

There are also plenty of services to visit the causeway by train or bus.

Nearby Sights

When traveling in Northern Ireland there are plenty of other sights nearby. The most popular are the Dunluce Castle, Mussenden Temple, Slemish Mountain, and Belfast.

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Author: ashley.minor. Last updated: Apr 05, 2015

Pictures of Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway HDR - Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway HDR - Photo by Ashley Clark

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