Things to do | Art, culture & heritage | Giant's causeway

Giant's Causeway - Northern Ireland

World Heritage Site

Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the rugged Antrim coast of Northern Ireland.

This intriguing rock formation is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea and has been shrouded in myth and legend for centuries. And as soon as you see it you'll understand why - it's hard to believe this bizarre rock structure was naturally formed.

In fact, the ancient Irish never stopped to consider that nature may have created such a spectacle, for them, such a formation could only have been the work of giants. One particular giant - Finn MacCool, giant among giants and leader of the guardians of the King of Ireland.

Legend has it that a boastful Scottish giant stood on the shores of Scotland taunting MacCool and ridiculing his fighting prowess. "I could kill you with one hand" said the foolish Scottish giant, "but unfortunately I can't swim". MacCool was so enraged he began tearing pieces of the cliff and building a causeway across the sea. After his bold threats, the Scottish giant had no choice but to cross, but on realising MacCool's true size he fled back to Scotland like a little girl.

This is just one of the legends of how the Giants Causeway was formed (many of which involve the indestructible giant Finn MacCool). However the causeway has been studied by geologists for over 300 years, and while it may be less enchanting, it's agreed that these extraordinary formations were caused by volcanic activity some 50-60 million years ago.

Must see & do:

Giant's Causeway Tourist Information Centre- find out all the myths and legends and learn about the geography of this natural phenomenon.

Causeway School Museum- designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis famous for designing the village of Portmeirion in Wales which featured in the cult 1960s TV series 'The Prisoner'.

St. Cuthbert's Graveyard- burial place of some of the few salvaged bodies of the 1,200 sailors who died when the Spanish merchant boat 'The Girona' floundered on Lacada Point in 1588.

Giants Causeway Tramway- take a ride along the coast from Portrush to Ballycastle on one of three original and carefully restored steam trains.

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