Whether you believe that the Giant’s Causeway was formed by a giant or by a volcano, the 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns that meet the sea on the North Coast are a sight to behold.
Around 50 million years ago, lava from volcanic eruptions in County Antrim produced these chunky hexagonal columns. It’s hard to believe that they weren’t carved out by human hands, though Irish legend explains that the columns were thrown into the sea by a giant, Finn MacCool, so that he could journey to Scotland to meet his rival Bennandoner, for a duel. MacCool was afraid of Bennandoner but played a clever trick on him to convince Bennandoner he was even bigger than he was. When Bennandoner ran away, he broke up bits of the causeway, which sunk into the sea.
The Giant’s Causeway first experienced international fame in 1739, when Dublin artist Susanna Drury made watercolour paintings of it. Her engravings then appeared in volume 12 of the French Encyclopédie. The National Trust took over care of the Causeway in the 1960s, and their visitor centre was rebuilt in 2012. You can read about the legend there and take a guided audio tour of the stones, or choose to explore the causeway yourself for free. If you’ve a longer day ahead of you, try taking the cliff top Runkerry walk or the Red Trail, which are steep but a great way to experience the causeway from another angle. And, if it gets too windy to stay out on the stones, why not drive to Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, less than fifteen minutes away? A free sample will warm up your bones in no time.