Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Giant's Causeway

Cliffs of the Causeway

The Irish are some of the world's most prolific story tellers hands down. Any doubt with this statement will be put to rest with the readings of Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis, James Joyce and countless other scribes. The stories these and other writers put to the paper also brought tears, laughter, and remorse which seems to be a standby for the Irish.

Around the Causeway bend

One particular Irish myth is the story of Fionn MacCumhail (Finn MacCool) who built a basalt causeway from Northern Ireland to Scotland across the North Channel.

A myth because there are a number of variations concerning why Finn actually built the causeway in the first place. The one consistent theme was Finn accepted a physical confrontation with the Scottish giant Benandonner to see who was the strongest. The differences in the story occur with numerous endings with Finn losing, winning, running away from the Scotsman and other versions.

A bit of perspective
Can this be natural?
The bottom line of the myth is a great and entertaining fictional piece. And isn't that what a tall tale is supposed to be?

This World Heritage site, dedicated by UNESCO in 1986, is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.

Fifty million or more years in the past this area was under a constant and destructive bombardment from volcanic activity. Molten basalt flowed through chalk beds which resulted in a very large lava plateau leaving behind tens of thousands of pillar like structures all lined up together to form what looks likes steps into the blue sea.

Laureen adds perspective

The various heights of the basalt columns are the result of how quickly the lava cooled.

Fast = shorter. Slow = taller.

Then again this is just science talking since there are not many of us around since the Paleogene Period. We will stick with science at this point for the explanation of the Giants Causeway.

The coastal area where this phenomena occurred is the number one tourist attraction in all of Northern Ireland. And this is probably true since 1693 when a paper was presented to the Royal Society by Sir Richard Bulkeley, a fellow at Trinity College in Dublin. And who is going to argue with a knighted personage?

Then again, this scenic and historical location is only three miles from the village of Bushmills. Yes, the one and only world famous distillery of whiskey.

J and L taking a break on the Causeway
Perhaps this is another reason for the popularity of the area and we'll drink to that.

Slippery when wet
But don't try maneuvering those slippery pillars of basalt after a few snorts of Bushmills - there's a need for steady footing there, Laddie.

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