Day Thirteen: Ireland 2018

Today was a fantastic day! Just let me preface this by saying that when you get to go on a trip that brings your childhood to life, it is just simply earth shattering in such a wonderful way.

Our whole (well main reason) for coming to Bushmills, UK, was for Dad and I to be able to visit the Giant’s Causeway. This site is a geological phenomenon that is renown in it’s own right, but when you tie in the Celtic mythology that shares a history with this amazing place, it becomes a rather fantastical place to see. And to make things even more perfect, we finally got a taste of typical Irish weather. It rained all day! Talk about setting the scene. We decided to buy tickets so we could explore the whole visitors center and the causeway, and by doing so we ended up having a free guided tour with a fantastic Irishman names Adrian. Before we even had our headsets on he was cracking jokes and messing with a few of the kids in our group. I am much more comfortable around humorous people, especially when those people can make everyone around you feel comfortable and welcome. Adrian was from a neighboring town, so he’d grown up knowing all about the causeway and it’s history, so as we walked, he was able to point out all sorts of things about the geology of the area, the stories of certain stone structures, all the while making us laugh with funny quips and phrases. After we got towards the botton of the hill leading away from the visitor center, Adrain told us all about the story of Fionn mac Cumhaill, the giant that lived in the cliffs and built the causeway.

The story of Fionn mac Cumhaill (or Finn McCool) goes that Fionn has a ongoing disagreement with another giant across the waters in Scotland, known as Benandonner. He would taunt Fionn, saying Fionn would be dead if only he could cross the water to lay his hands on him. When he got there he found that the Scottish giant was asleep but also far bigger than himself, so afraid for his life, Fionn ran home across the causeway. When Benandonner awoke and saw the causeway, he came across  intent on fighting Fionn. Now Fionn’s wife was a very intelligent woman and when she realized what foolishness her husband had gotten himself into, she came up with a plan. Fionn’s wife dressed up her husband as their infant son and when Benandonner arrived she said Fionn wasn’t home, asking him to be quiet not to wake up the baby. As the perfect hostess, she offered Benandonner griddle cakes, only inside them she had hidden an iron. When he couldn’t eat them, she taunted him, and gave a normal griddle cake to the ‘baby’ Fionn in disguize to eat. When the giant saw Fionn easily eat the cake, and how big this “baby” was, he decided he had better not chance being around when the father of such a strong and large baby came home.  Benandonner fled back across the path, destroying it as he went. The only parts that remain are the Giant’s Causeway on the Antrim coast, and similar rock formations on the opposing Scottish coast.  There are many other stories that speak the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill, but this is the one that pertains directly to the causeway. This is a story I heard many times as a child, so to be there in person, well it really brought the story to life.

After our tour was over, we were free to explore the area, climbing over the hexagonal rock formations as far as we dared in the slippery conditions brought on by rain and salt water on basalt (the hardened magma rock that the causeway is comprised of). After spending a good bit of time by the shore, we decided we were waterlogged enough and headed back up to the visitor center to get information on our next stop: the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

To be honest, this one kind of disappointed me a bit. Maybe it was because I was already tired from the morning and being soaking wet. But I was really expecting the bridge to be this long, terrifying, basic rope structure of a cavernous cliff-side with crashing waves below. Instead, I found a short bridge, that looked very stable with wooden planks all across and tall rope railings on either side. Sure, it swayed a little in the wind, and shook when other people got on, but I was not overly impressed by the look of it. It seemed much larger and more thrilling in photos I’ve seen. Because of this, we decided not to go across, but we walked along the mainland side, watching seals in the harbor, and taking pictures of the bridge and cliffs. I am okay with keeping 8 euro in my pocket for another day, since I still got some pretty cool photos without being on the bridge itself.

~Kelly

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