Ireland is a mystical land full of ancient wonders if you’re able to look past the Guinness and get out into the wild. Guinness is pretty wonderful and also ancient, so maybe it does technically count, but still, it’s not really what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about really mythical stuff when heroes and kings (and giants) roamed the green hills of Eire. Despite Ireland embracing modernity in recent times, there are still plenty of remaining vestiges scattered across the Isle that remind tourists and locals alike of the mystical atmosphere that once prevailed.
One of the most enduring is the Giant’s Causeway, located in County Antrim, at the very tip top of the country. This large expanse of basalt columns have captured the collective imagination of visitors for many years, and the Causeway remains one of the most popular tourist sites in the country. If you’re planning a bucket list trip to the magical isle of Ireland, it’s an absolute must see; so check out BUCKiTDREAM to find out if any other travelers have ventured to the stunning natural phenomenon, then prepare to take some notes in your ever-handy BUCKiTDREAM planner, as we help you take on the mythical Giant’s Causeway!
Getting to the Causeway There’s an important distinction to be made regarding the location of the Giant’s Causeway; it’s in Northern Ireland, not the Republic of. Essentially, six counties in the North of the country belong to Great Britain, while the remaining thirty-two from the Republic of Ireland. Of course, it’s easy to travel between the two, as the border isn’t as contentious as it used to be; however, be aware that the North uses the sterling currency, as opposed to the Euro adopted in the South.
The best place to base yourself during the trip would be Portrush, a beautiful harbor town with its fair share of pubs and restaurants. However, you can also incorporate the Giant’s Causeway into a larger trip around the Northern coast; the choice is yours!
The Myth Behind the Causeway The landscape of this unique geographical formation comprises over 40,000 basalt columns, each startlingly defined. Legend has it that the unique geographical formation is the result of a long-standing giant feud, which eventually boiled over. Notorious Irish giant Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by rival Scottish bruiser Benandonner, and in his eagerness to respond, MacCool constructed the Causeway over the North Channel so the two could finally settle the score.
Upon seeing Benandonner however, Finn realized he was hopelessly outmatched, and hightailed it back to Ireland. When the Scottish giant followed him back over, Finn wrapped himself in a cloth and pretended to be his own baby. Benandonner took one look at him, thought, “If the baby’s that big, I’m not hanging around to see the father”, and hightailed it back to Bonnie Scotland.
The Science Behind the Causeway The actual cause of the basalt columns is volcanic activity. About 50 to 60 million years ago (give or take), Antrim was subjected to the unbridled fury of the nearby volcanoes (all well and truly dormant these days, thankfully), which formed a substantial lava plateau along the coast. As the molten hot lava dried, it fractured and cracked like mud, resulting in the formation of the unique pillar-like structures that so enamor visitors.
You can clamber over the pillars as much as you like, as tourists are free to roam around the area as much as they please. And it’s a pretty expensive area in all; you could easily spend a day rambling around the rocks, before catching a beautiful sunset as you sit atop one of the many basalt pillars (which are oddly perfectly shaped for taking in the view).
Check Out the Fascinating Visitor’s Center Given the stunning geography, it’s no surprise that the Giant’s Causeway has been named a world UNESCO World Heritage site, and you can learn all about the legacy of the ancient formation in the handy visitor’s center. This energy-efficient archaeological splendor boasts a state-of-the-art interior and a glass roof, which is just perfect for viewing the stunning 360-degree surround of coastline. The Center also features an entertaining array of interactive exhibits, as well as an audio guide to the area.
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the gems of mythical Ireland and should be incorporated into any decent bucket list trip to the Emerald Isle. But there are loads more to see and do across the small but fascinating island (which doesn’t necessarily involve tracking down your spurious ancestors). Check out The Best Stops Along Ireland’s Atlantic Way and Five of the Best Scenic Sights in Dublin, for more ideas on what to do in Ireland, then get planning that once-in-a-lifetime trip to the mythical Isle of Eire!