The Giant’s Causeway is by far the most well known site that the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland has to offer. Thousands upon thousands of hexagonal columns form the fascinating outcrop that extends into the raging sea. As with most famous sites and objects, there is always a sense of trepidation as the big moment finally approaches. Will it live up to its reputation? Will it be smaller than you thought? Will you even be able to see it with all the people surrounding it?
When Reputation Precedes You
In terms of reputation, the Giant’s Causeway definitely came out on top. With a 2 km trail (or was it 2 miles?) that starts along the sea and eventually takes you up the side of a cliff to the famous organ formation, it is more than just a mound of rocks. There are many legends surrounding the creation of the causeway with the magic of the more “outlandish” ones adding yet another dimension to the experience.
My favourite version of the giant Finn MacCool line of theories begins on a dark and stormy night (hey – it’s Ireland!) and Finn MacCool has learned that a Scottish giant is mocking his strength and fighting ability. Not one to take things sitting down, Finn throws a rock bearing a challenge over to Scotland. The Scottish giant claims that he can’t swim and so can not take the challenge. With his honour at stake, Finn rips apart pieces of rock along the coast and constructs a causeway of columns that stretches the whole way across to Scotland.
All that hard work made Finn very tired so when he was back home, he took a long nap by the fire. Sure enough, the Scottish giant showed up while he was sleeping. In order to protect her husband, Finn’s wife disguised the sleeping giant as a baby. The Scottish giant took one look at the size of the baby and realized that if this was only the baby, how big would the father be? Knowing he couldn’t defeat him, the Scottish giant fled back to Scotland over the causeway destroying it as he went along so that Finn couldn’t follow him.
With the waves pounding the shore and the columns rising up majestically from the ocean spray, it is not hard to imagine the giant dual.
Size is Relative
As for the next pitfall of size, the only way that the Giant’s Causeway could appear “small” is in comparison to the ragged cliffs surrounding it. That said, standing on the causeway itself could make you think that it is perhaps a little smaller than you thought it would be. However, once you are above it looking at the tiny people and the cliff faces sloping down to meet it, there is no mistaking it’s magnitude. And if you think of size as “presence” and not just the space that something takes up, there is little to beat the Giant’s Causeway. The roar of the waves mixing with the wind and the smell of the sea air fills every corner of perception.
And for a full sensory adventure, all you have to do is stand on the lower shelf and one of those pounding waves will reach you eventually! I will admit that wet feet accompanied a few of our photos!
Far From The Maddening Crowd
And ahhh…the people! Beautiful places in the world are natural people magnets. Some places are easier to escape the crowds than others, but at the end of the day, you can’t begrudge a group of people for wanting to see something amazing. Travelling in the off-season is always a good first step in crowd control but we can’t always rely on being able to get away at the most opportune times.
The Giant’s Causeway on a blustery (but not actually rainy) Friday in March revealed a smattering of people. The beauty of the causeway is that if you tuck yourself into a corner, you can actually maneuver the shot in such a way that hides any unwanted wanderers. And for the one or two who do sneak in, a little cloning action never goes astray (especially if they are wearing fluorescent orange…)
So although I approached the Giant’s Causeway with more than a little trepidation, it did not disappoint. Some things are just wildly magical. Have a look at our favourite images from our day tracing the footsteps of Finn MacCool.