Scientists say that 55 to 65 million years ago, the North of Ireland was subject to volcanic activity, and that molten lava cooled rapidly, creating fractures in the rock that looked like giant stone pillars, some reaching a height of nearly 40 feet.
It made a vivid pattern in the rock…
…and was such a unique natural phenomenon that in 1986 UNESCO named it World Heritage Site.
But if you ask me, that’s a bunch of blarney. Better yet, ask any local. He’ll tell you what really happened is that a giant named Finn MacCool was building a causeway to Scotland.
A Scottish giant named Benandonner tracked Finn to the causeway, looking for a fight. He wanted to prove he was the greatest giant of them all. He had already tracked down and beaten every other giant in Ireland, and Benandonner wanted to serve up Finn with the same sauce.
He hurried home to his wife Oonagh. “Don’t worry, darlin’,” she told Finn. “We’ll serve him up as good as he brings.” She dressed Finn in a baby bonnet and put him in a giant wooden cradle. Then she baked 27 loaves of bread with 27 iron griddles baked into them, and one good loaf of bread. When Benandonner arrived looking for Finn, Oonagh said, “He’s off to the Giants’ Causeway, to make paste out of some buffoon of a giant named Benandonner. But come in and I’ll feed you the bread I prepared for Finn.” Oonagh gave Benandonner a loaf with a griddle baked into it, and he broke three teeth on it. “Take it away or I’ll not have a good tooth left in me head!” he shouted.
“It’s just the way Finn likes it, nice and crunchy,” said Oonagh. “Perhaps that one’s stale.” Then she gave ‘Baby Finn’ the one good loaf. When Benandonner saw him gobble it down, he shouted, “Sure I haven’t a chance against the giant whose baby can eat the bread that nearly broke my jaw!”
Oonagh smiled as she watched Benandonner racing helter skelter down Knockmany Hill. “When brains are called for,” she told Finn, “brawn won’t help.”
If you go to The Giants’ Causeway in Antrim, remember that you are walking in a land where giants once tread.
And never forget that many a man besides Finn MacCool would find himself in a pretty scrape, if not for his wife!
All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck
Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel theme: Feet.
o very cool!!!
MacCool! Thanks for stopping by, Len!
I love this story; I have a version of it in a collection of giant stories my mother bought me when I was a kid.
I always wondered where those rocks were located (I’d seen pictures of them before), so I appreciate the info. I’ll have to take a trip to Northern Ireland someday. I’ll just have to stay away from any bread. 😛
Thanks for sharing.
I love this story too. This is a very abbreviated version of the story I tell to audiences, but it gives folks the gist of it. I think it’s very cool that your mom got you a collection of giant stories, and that you read it, remembered it, and loved it. I truly believe that folk tales are a great foundation for anyone, but especially for kids. They tend to be the ones who grow up to be writers and storytellers.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story.
Wow, those rocks are amazing! I have to go there now. Great story too Naomi, I love stories like that.
Thank you for visiting, Georgia. I hope you get to go there someday. I love stories like that too. They make the world seem a little more wonder-full.
You know that is less than an hour’s drive from my house? Anyone interested in the story and lots more should come and visit – I was telling stories right there at the old Causeway Schoolhouse last week – a wonderful place for tales.
Oh my gosh! I had no idea! If I’d known, we would have come to see you. Liz, have you a website we can post in these comments, for my readers to check out?
If anyone is planning a trip to see The Giants’ Causeway, you should definitely check out this website. It belongs to an internationally famous storyteller named Liz Weir. She lives only minutes away from The Causeway. Try to plan your visit for a Saturday night, because she has storytelling at the Balleamon Barn, and you wouldn’t want to miss it!
Reblogged this on OyiaBrown.
Hi Oyia, thanks for the re-blog! Glad you could stop by.
Wonderful weaving of science, myth and good old fashioned story-telling. I love the reminder of how science and magic coexist in our everyday lives to explain the same thing, When we visit the places as individuals and families, both story and science speak to us–the glory of the universe, the resilience of people. No matter how you get to the conclusion, both sometimes lead us to a good answer. Your photos add to the magic of the story. Another fabulous post.
Thank you, Sabrina. Well said! With many of the ancient stories that explain certain natural phenomenon, it is surprising how often they have instinctively sensed the scientific reasons for it, but tell the story in a way they can relate to.
Loved the magical folklore
Thank you so much for stopping by.
Reblogged this on msamba.
Women rule the world! We just don’t always get the credit. 🙂
Those are the stories I love to read and tell! It’s good to get the word out. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Wonderful story and pics, Naomi.
Thank you, Elyse. It’s good to hear from you.
I’m sure thats exactly what happened 😉
Oh, yes. My sister (www.Constance Baltuck.com) is an artist-in-residence in Alvik right now, a couple hours outside of Bergen. One of my favorite paintings she has done in Norway is a field littered with big stones. They are trolls who were caught partying and turned into stone when the sun came up. Thanks for the visit, Maggie.
Really… Wow! I checked out her website, she’s good! Her work is beautiful.
I’ll tell her you said so, Maggie. I love her work. I have enough of them to fill a museum. I painted different rooms in my house different colors, the better to set off her paintings, and I rotate them according to season. Downstairs I have a long hall in which I hang the paintings when they are not on display upstairs. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit her site.
In California, the eastern Sierras, there’s a beautiful site and a national monument called Devil’s Outpost, where lava flows formed nearly identical hexagonal patterns. However, plain geological explanations suffice to explain it.
I’ve never been there, but would like to go sometime. I went to geology camp in Jackson, WY through the University of Michigan, and in Yellowstone we saw rock columns similar to these–I remember it was due to volcanic activity, and called columnar joining. I love the “pourquoi” stories, which explain why the world is the way it is. I usually prefer the tale to the scientific explanation, although I like knowing both.
Thank you for visiting, and taking the time to comment.
I thought it was called Devil’s Postpile….hexagonal columns breaking away. Been there years ago.
One of my favourite places, thanks for the post and the great pics!
Cool! Thank you for coming by and taking the time to comment, Lois.
Love the giant tale and moral lesson. And the pictures aren’t bad 😉 Most of all, I love the colorful play of words you use for sharing the story. The unassuming cleverness and practicality of women, an most underrated virtue IMHO. Nikki
Hi Nikki! Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you! I do love this story. I wish I could tell it to you properly–it is a fifteen minute story, and it kind of hurt to have to boil it down to 300 words, but blogging and performing are two different beasties.
I would love to see this for myself. Love the story, Naomi. Great fun. 🙂
Hi ad, it is worth the trip, and there are so many other things to do in the area. Like the Belfast open air history museum.
Wonderful story and fascinating rocks. Thanks, Naomi!
Thanks for stopping by Amy.
Great story – glad you set us straight! Thanks, Naomi! 🙂
Hi Cathy, welcome back! We missed you! Thanks for stopping by.
oh. nice story! I enjoyed reading it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
It is good to hear form you. I appreciate your visit, and your taking the time to comment.
I didn’t know abut the existance of this place.
This is truly amazing and beautiful, and really hope to see it some day.
Interesting post Naomi! Love the information and loved seeing the place through your eyes; outstanding shots!!
I hope you get there someday. I can just imagine you and your camera on the road together, and the amazing photos you would take. But what is most amazing to me about your photography is the way you can see a whole new world in a drop of water.
Thanks so much for your visit, and your very sweet comments!
Great post, Naomi. Thanks for sharing the photos. Amazing how the shadow over the pool looks like a frog.
I SO prefer the giant story over the lava one! Great post, Naomi.
P.S. These rock formations remind me of those at Frenchman Coulee neat Vantage and Quincy, Washington. Geologists say they were created by Ice Age floods, but I’m going with the giants!
That should be “near Vantage” instead of “neat Vantage”.
On our recent storytelling tour we stopped in Qunicy to tell stories, and on the way to Moses Lake, we stopped at the park and looked at that impressive formation–it reminded me of the Badlands.
Very creative photos of yours, I hope I’m that kind of talented as yours.:)
You are! Just keep doing what you’re doing! Thank you so much for stopping by.
That’s fantastic! And so are your pictures. And now you’ve made me really want to go there. Dang it! LOL.
Thank you for stopping by, Debra, and for taking the time to comment.
WOW! Thank you dear for this beautiful post and photographs, it was so enjoyable. Love, nia
Dear Nia, thank you for the visit, and thank you for your very lovely comments. With love, Naomi
What a neat story. Great pics, too. I love stuff like that. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for your visit. I appreciate your kind comments as well.
Interesting lore. What amazing formations!
It is pretty wild! Thanks for stopping by, Patti.
I would love to walk where the giants used to roam and dominated the Earth. What an exciting legend and your images were perfect for the story. The stone formations are so unique, reminded me of Alien Bee pods. There’s this one picture where a water collected and a person’s shadow was capture…now that’s magical!
Dear Island Traveler,
I love to hear from you. The image of the Alien Bee pods made me smile. They are just the right shape! Thanks for stopping by.
Love your ending! . . and the photos!
Thank you, Mary!
What a fantastic story. I love this! 😀
Thank you, Dianne!
Amazing story and fantastic pictures! I’m adding this to my Pinterest to visit board! 🙂
Yeah! Thanks for the visit, Kourtney.
What an amazing site and story.. WoW! Now I have another to add to places to see. 😉
It is very cool, and pretty easy to get to as well. Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth.
Science debunked once again! The evidence is clear. Go Giants!
In Giants vs. Geologists, so far the Giants are WAY ahead! Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for sharing this story, Naomi. Now I have one more story to tell Jakub.
I would love to visit Northern Ireland one day, and will surely remember this tale. 🙂
There is a lot to see there–in Belfast, not far away, there is the Titanic Museum and a great open air history museum too. Thank you for stopping by!
I love it! I want to walk were giants walked. So far, I’m also on the giants side 🙂
Thanks for the visit, and the great comment. It’s the Giants’ game from start to finish!
This is a fun way to tell a travel tale. Loved it!
I’ve never been to Ireland and if I go this is one thing I would really like to see.
Awesome! I know I’m a Geologist, but I love your explanation a hell of a lot better. Maybe I’ll present it to my lecturers next time I visit the university. 😉
thank you, Naomi, for introducing this Goliath Gulliver Giant story!
would love to visit (with Bob, of course) this Heritage Site someday … love the tale and how you narrated it! great post, Naomi 🙂 — Mrs. Bob
Such a beautiful and inspiring story Naomi. I like your version infinitely better than the scientific/boring/factual one. Giants and a wife’s good sense, with a sensible head over her shoulders – age-old tale and perfect for Valentine’s indeed. I hope to visit this place too someday. 🙂
it’s the way you tell it Naomi!- lovely shots especially the second one down
Thank you, Laura!
Thank you, Naomi, for storytelling; I like the fragment: “When brains are called for, brawn won’t help…” – maybe a good advice actually for people in the Ukraine… – and for Boko Haram in Nigeria http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/boko-haram-nigerian-terror-group-sells-girls-slavery-n93951
One of these days I’ll hop and skip over those stones 🙂