At the beginning of this past summer I went to Northern Ireland to study Peace and Reconciliation. While there we made a few stops to see the natural beauty of the island; one of the best sights we saw was definitely The Giants Causeway. To get to the causeway one must first trek down a massively sloped hill, but once at the bottom the sight is almost breathtaking (and not because you almost tripped the whole way down). It is really hard to put into words what the Causeway looks like, so here is a picture:
Unfortunately, even pictures cannot provide the actual beauty of the landscape. While there, most of us on the trip thought about how this random formation of rocks came about. There is a popular myth told by the Irish about why the causeway was made. There was once a giant named Finn who lived on this are of the island and he had heard of another giant in Scotland. For those of you who don’t know, Scotland can be easily seen in certain parts of Northern Ireland. Finn wanted to combat the giant from Scotland, so he built a causeway from Northern Ireland to Scotland so that the giant from Scotland would have no excuse not to come. To Finn’s surprise the Scottish giant was quite large, so Finn ran home to his wife to ask for advice. She dressed him up like a baby so that when the Scottish giant came to see Finn he would instead see what would appear to be an overly large child. Thinking that the father of this “baby” must be insanely large, the Scottish giant ran home to Scotland destroying the causeway as he went so that Finn would not follow.
While it’s a nice story, it doesn’t really explain anything about the causeway. It is actually made up of basalt columns that are in a hexagonal shape and are of different sizes. According to the website http://www.giantscausewaycentre.com, the causeway is believed to have been formed over 60 million years ago. The cause is volcanic eruptions and lava that cooled; overtime the columns shrunk, expanded, and eroded. There are over 40,000 columns in the main part of the causeway, some as tall as 40 feet high.
Nowadays the flat columns are used as stepping stones to climb all around the causeway. The columns go all the way into the ocean, so if you sit in just the right spot you can feel the spray on your face when the waves crash against the causeway. Some people have called the causeway the 8th wonder of the world due to the natural beauty and chaos of the site. No matter how this place came into being it is definitely a place you should visit should you ever find yourself in Northern Ireland.