Like a game of Tetris gone horribly wrong, in the distance, I can see the rubble. A beast has torn through the landscape. A bomb has gone off and now children are using the remains as their playground of skipping stones. On top of the mismatched pieces of land, tourists stand, propping up their cameras to get the perfect shot of this stretch of land gone wrong.
The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated on the Causeway Coast. When you first descend on this giant, you too will be mistaken as the ancients were. However this landscape is not man-made or some bombed out castle, tumbling into the ocean. Rather it is one nature created.
According to legend, Irish giant Finn McCool created the causeway. He laid the work for Northern Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction so that he could cross the sea to Scotland and fight the giant Benandonner. However, upon arriving in Scotland and seeing the sleeping giant, McCool decided he just wasn’t big enough to fight him. He returned to Ireland but it wasn’t long until Benandonner made his way across the causeway to fight McCool. Finn’s wife had the brilliant idea to dress up her husband like a baby. Once the Scottish giant saw how huge Finn’s baby was, he didn’t want to stick around to see the father. Fleeing for Scotland, he supposedly ripped the causeway to shreds and that is what we see today.
As I position along these hexagonal stone columns, I find a giant perched at the top, with the stance one should have at the Giant’s Causeway. Apparently McCool wears a windbreaker tucked into his jeans. While I would love to believe the legend, geologists have a more practical explanation for the formation of these rocks. An undersea volcano erupted here 60 million years ago, creating a hexagonal pattern in the rocks as the lava cooled. Erosion has since cut the lava flow and allowed for hexagonal columns to spring up on the coast.
I watch as grown men run across the rocks, trying not to stumble into the waves crashing into the causeway. A mist hangs over the area, but just enough sunlight makes for a surreal scene. In this moment, I am a full believer in Finn McCool’s work and not that of a volcano. There is an element of fantasy to the Giant’s Causeway but also ridiculousness. Travelers act like 3rd graders jumping from hexagonal perch to another hexagonal perch.
You could spend a long time here, listening to the waves crash while sitting on the perfect shaped bench for people watching. However, as the sea mist rolls in, I must go. Walking out, a scene of romance forms, straight out of the legends we all would like to believe formed this strange coastline. A couple walks as the mist hangs over. Perhaps it’s Finn McCool and his wife, or at least I would like to think so.