IRISH LEGENDS has it that there was once a giant named Finn McCool who threw pieces of earth in the sea to make a causeway. This causeway was supposedly a route for him to meet his rival – a Scottish giant. Finn however decided to fool his rival instead of facing him in battle. So his wife disguised him as a baby sleeping in a cot. When the Scottish giant arrived and saw how ginormous the ‘baby’ was, he must have thought to himself: “How big would Finn then be?”
The Scottish giant fled his way back to Scotland, breaking apart the causeway.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the causeway myself last year sometime in February. And such stories were recounted by the enthusiastic Irish guide on our 3-hour en-route from Dublin up into Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK territories, unlike Ireland).
Our drive through parts of Northern Ireland was scenic, passing by lots of countryside and vast space under open skies. Amazing! After getting into the capital Belfast, it was an additional 1.5 hour journey northwest before we arrived at our destination in County Antrim. We were pretty lucky that it was not raining, though it started to drizzle quite a fair bit towards the last part of our journey.
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks… Is basically how I would describe the Giant’s Causeway. It was far smaller than what I recalled in my encyclopaedias as a child, but I blown away by how/why/when these rocks were formed. So I later learnt that these hexagon-shaped columns were in tens of thousands of numbers. They were formed during a volcano eruption 60 million years ago! It thus comes as no surprise that the Giant’s Causeway is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Such a natural world wonder.
What I really enjoyed doing while I was there was climbing and stumbling over the rocks; literally getting on all four of my hands and feet.
Although right by the North Atlantic Ocean, the area surrounding the Causeway bay is not just coastal. If you are adventurous and have the urge to work those leg muscles (like I did) you would want to try the cliff way above the Causeway. It’s mostly stairs and hilly paths, but definitely worth every single pant and groan. Rewarded with an even more breathtaking view of the scenery!
12-miles down from the Causeway is where you can find the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. No prizes for guessing what that entails. Once upon time, this bridge was used by salmon fishermen in island crossing. Now it remains one of Northern Ireland popular tourist attractions.
With an entrance fee of £10, you get to cross the bridge. Not for the ones with a serious phobia of heights as 1) the bridge sways slightly with the wind, and 2) the only way back is the way you came from which essentially means crossing twice (Yay!). Advisable to not look down, but how can you resist with such a stunning view like that! Surrounding the area, you are greeted with the beauty of Rathlin Island and Scotland. I also managed to get a glimpse of a pair of Fulmar birds nestling near the rocks.
We managed to stop for a quick stroll in Belfast on the way back. Though I was only there for a short time, I quite like how pleasant the city is. Its streets are much cleaner than Dublin’s, and you can spot interesting architecture along the way – like the City Hall building right in the city centre. On the grounds of City Hall is the Titanic Memorial, to commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the famed RMS Titanic in 1912. Fact of the day that I learnt was that the Titanic was built in Belfast, mostly by Protestant Irish at the shipyards.
I don’t know why I have always had the impression that the Titanic set sail from New York.
Apart from a mini history lesson, we also left our footprints with chalk drawings on the floor. It was probably for a street art cause or a campaign advocating world peace, but I fail to recall now. I thought I mastered a pretty impressive lion face there!
All in a day’s trip to Northern Ireland.