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April 9, 2010

Giants Causeway, a spectacular rock formation in Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway is a spectacular rock formation on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. The site consists of some 40,000 basalt columns rising out of the sea. The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Popular mythology attributes the creation of the Causeway to an Irish giant named Fionn mac Cumhaill. To prove his superior strength and status, Fionn decided to fight against a rival Scottish giant named Benandonner. As there was no boat large enough to carry huge Finn across the sea to confront Bennandonner, he built his own pathway of stepping stones from Ireland to Scotland. He then was able to walk across the sea without getting his feet wet. When he crossed the sea, however, he saw just how large Benandonner was. He ran back to Ireland before Bennandonner saw him, but the causeway was built and Bennandonner came to fight. Fionn crawled into a crib and when Bennandonner came to the door to fight him, his wife told him not to wake the baby. Seeing just how large Fionn's "baby" was, Bennandonner grew afraid and ran back to Scotland, tearing up the causeway as he went to prevent Fionn following him.

There are many walks to do around the Causeway. There are two ways to approach the Giants Causeway. It can be reached directly by road, either on foot or using the seasonal Ulsterbus service (buses accessible for people with disabilities.) 0.8km, 0.5 mile to Giants Causeway. A longer circular walk follows the cliff path to the Shepherd's Steps and back via the Giants Causeway. 3km, almost 2 miles.

To get there, the best is to rent a car; we saw in earliest posts the car hire Ireland system. From Belfast, follow the signs for the "Giant's Causeway Coastal Route" for a beautiful scenic route to the Causeway. It takes a longer (around 2 hours depending on traffic) but it is worth it for the views.
There is also the more direct route along the A26 from Belfast or the A2/A37 from Derry/ Londonderry if time is a factor.


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