"" Writer's Wanderings: A Giant of a Tale!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Giant of a Tale!

On our second day to explore the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, we found ourselves in the land of legendary giants. The Giant's Causeway, a spectacular work of nature or giants if you would believe folklore, was fascinating. The rock formation is made from an estimated 40,000 basalt columns which were formed from a volcanic eruption over 60 million years ago.

The causeway was discovered in 1692 by the Bishop of Derry who immediately reported it to the tourist bureau in Dublin--just kidding--but it was reported to Dublin authorities who in turn contacted authorities in London and the theories and research began in an attempt to explain the phenomenon.

But who wants facts like lava flowing and filling in fissures and creating a layer of basalt and then sun and rain eroding them, more lava flowing, cooling slowly, more cracking, and on and on until you get all of these columns of mostly six-sided stones? Give me the legend. It's much more fun.

It is said that an Irish giant named Finn McCool lived along the coast and was insulted by a Scottish giant, Fingal, who lived across the channel. In anger, Finn lifted a huge chunk of earth and hurled it at Fingal. The earth fell into the sea. Fingal retaliated with a huge stone tossed in Finn's direction. He taunted Finn saying that Finn was lucky he wasn't a strong swimmer or he'd come over to the Irish shore and give Finn what for.

Finn was enraged and began throwing large clumps of earth into the channel to make a walkway for Fingal to come over and face him. It took him a week to complete the walkway but since he hadn't slept in a week, he was worried that he was too tired to face Fingal.

Now here's where it gets interesting. One account says he asked his wife what to do and she told him to disguise himself as a baby in a cot--which is what he did. When Fingal arrived, Finn's wife said her husband was out but showed Fingal her "baby" laying in the cradle. Fingal saw the size of the "baby" and wondered how big the father was. He high tailed it home tearing up the walkway as he went. The Giants Causeway is all that's left.

Now isn't that better than a lot of geological facts? Before we left, Bob and I were feeling a bit adventuresome. We climbed to the top of a group of rocks for a Kodak moment. After all, we were nearing the end of our Ireland trip and a turned ankle now wouldn't be disastrous.

Our final stop along the coast was at Carrick-A-Rede which means "the rock in the road." The road is the sea route for the Atlantic salmon on their journey west past Carrick Island. For over 350 years, fishermen have strung a rope bridge 90 feet above the sea to allow them to cross over to the best places to catch the migrating salmon. We were here not for the salmon but to cross the rope bridge.

I wasn't sure what to expect but I wasn't about to chicken out either. Talk about a group of grownup kids. . .It was a long walk and climb up and down to get to where the bridge is hung over the drop between the main shore and Carrick Island. An attendant sits in a shed at the top of the bridge and collects your ticket and instructs you that the bridge is one way only. If someone is coming toward you and on the bridge first they have the right of way. Oh, and no more than 8 on the bridge at a time.

Relief flowed over me when I saw that the rope bridge was really planking suspended by ropes and that I wasn't going to have to toe a rope like a circus performer. Actually it was easier to cross this rope bridge than the one in Disney World's Adventure Kingdom. It really didn't move much and no one was standing there jumping up and down to try to make you fall.

The island itself wasn't much more than a grassy covered rock. Probably a nice place to do some fishing from. Some of the shoreline was dramatic but we didn't spend a lot of time there. The adventure was in the bridge crossing.

On the way back, halfway across, I did aim the camera down for a view and snapped. I'm not sure I had my eyes opened looking down though. The last place you want to swoon from looking down 90 feet is in the middle of a rope bridge.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...