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The Giant's Causeway (or Irish: Clochán na bhFómharach) is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about two miles (3 km) north of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.
The Giant's Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
During the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. While contraction in the vertical direction reduced the flow thickness (without fracturing), horizontal contraction could only be accommodated by cracking throughout the flow. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period.
Legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. One version of the legend tells that Fionn fell asleep before he got to Scotland. When he did not arrive, the much larger Benandonner crossed the bridge looking for him. To protect Fionn, his wife Oonagh laid a blanket over him so he could pretend that he was actually their baby son. In a variation, Fionn fled after seeing Benandonner's great bulk, and asked his wife to disguise him as the baby. In both versions, when Benandonner saw the size of the 'infant', he assumed the alleged father, Fionn, must be gigantic indeed. Therefore, Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway in case he was followed by Fionn.
Another variation is that Oonagh painted a rock shaped like a steak and gave it to Benandonner, whilst giving the baby (Fionn) a normal steak. When Benandonner saw that the baby was able to eat it so easily, he ran away, tearing up the causeway.
The "causeway" legend corresponds with geological history in as much as there are similar basalt formations (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at the site of Fingal's Cave on the isle of Staffa in Scotland.
Thank you for all the arrangements and your efforts to make our visit to Ireland memorable. I just want to share some photos with you
After arriving in Ireland we went to the Hertz office to pick up the rental car. The staff was very helpful and at last we were on our way to the Hotel in Kilkenny. We arrived at about 16h00 and had a warm welcome. The ladies at reception made us feel very welcome. Our room was pretty and neat and clean and we had a good night’s sleep after the long flight and drive from the airport. Breakfast was great. Our waiter, Michael, (very friendly and helpful) even taught us how to say “hello “and “goodbye” in Irish. We left at about 11h00 and visited the Kilkenny Castle and gardens and explored the area.
After that we left for the Country House Hotel near Killarney. I do not have words to describe this charming, stunning and beautiful hotel. Everything was just perfect (it scores 10/10 with me). We got lost on the way and arrived late but we received a warm welcome and with such hospitality, it made us feel like royalty. Gerard made us feel at home and attended to our every need. Our host arranged for us to go on the Ring of Kerry trip and the scenery was absolutely stunning. We also got the opportunity to see the sheep dog demonstration and this is a must see for everyone taking the trip. We also stopped at the beach (unfortunately I cannot remember the name) and even ‘met” Charlie Chaplin.
After this stop over, we left for one of the highlights of our visit, The Cliffs of Mohr, whaohhhh, what an awesome experience this was, what an emotional moment when I first laid eyes on the cliffs, the beauty of it all, mother nature at one of her best (Thank you God for the eyes I have to see the beautiful things You have made)
We climed 166 steps to the top to O’ Brien’s Tower – what natural beauty………….amazing! We also did part of the Burran Way….. sjoe, what narrow pathways, my mom had more courage than me I think, but we did it anyway.
On the second day of our stay in Galway, we took the driving route through the Connemara Region. We saw Lough Corrib, the Twelve Pins Mountain. On our way to Clifden, we stopped at the beautiful Kylemore Abbey with its tranquil surroundings. Then we left for Roundstone Village where we enjoyed lunch and then headed back to the hotel.
Eventually we reached Dublin and returned the hired car. We covered a distance of almost 1400 km in the seven days we had the car.
In Dublin, we booked a trip to see the Giants Causeway, another highlight for me. We stopped at the Carrick-a-Rhede rope bridge and what an adrenalin experience it was to climb that bridge, but all worth it when you got to the other side.
Then came the best best, THE GIANTS CAUSEWAY. This was so exciting for me and I will treasure every moment I spent there
Even if we didn’t get to see everything that we would have liked to see, what we saw was enough to make us fall in love with Ireland for ever. Thank you for helping me and my brothers make our mom’s dream come true. Now we understand why Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, it was like the green, green grass of home…………
Till next time Debbie……………… (there definitely will be a next time God willing). I will surely recommend Irish Tourism to anyone who intends to visit the beautiful Emerald Isle with its magnificent scenery.
Take care & God bless
Erika Fortuin, Paarl, South Africa