A Glimpse of the Giant’s Causeway

What is your favorite geological place in the world?


Long before visiting Northern Ireland, I knew I wanted to see the famed Giants Causeway. A beach consisting of hexagonal basalt columns, it feeds both my love of patterns and my affinity for cool geology. It was formed by volcanic activity 50 million years ago and lava that cooled and cracked much like drying mud does.

There are several legends surrounding the formation of this now popular site. My favorite states the Scottish giant Benandonner challenged the Irish giant Fionn to a duel, and they built a causeway between the two islands to facilitate it. When Fionn saw his foe was much larger than he, his wife disguised him as a baby to hide. Benandonner saw the baby, and suspecting him to be Fionn’s son, assumed the father to be of incalculable size. He ran back across the channel, destroying the causeway behind him to avoid pursuit.

Note that though it may seem otherwise, you do NOT have to pay to visit the Giant’s Causeway. The visitor center offers an “experience,” and the adjoining parking lot is paid, but both are optional. There is also a paid shuttle to take you the kilometer along the coast to the site, but we quite enjoyed the walk.


Yes, there is an identical coastline at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle (thus the legend), and we would love to see it when we visit Scotland!


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