In Ireland, the best way to introduce a story is through our native language, so here we go….
Fadó, fadó (a long long time ago), Ireland was a land of giant forests, fearless warriors and giant people. The most famous of these was Fionn McCumhail (or Finn McCool).
Finn was not just a giant, a leader of men, a fearless warrior and poet, but he also happened to be involved in construction and was one of the most forward-looking leaders of his time.
Building Bridges between Communities
In 2018, (now) U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made public his support for a project which mooted construction of a bridge to link Northern Ireland to Scotland. More recently the idea appears to have been abandoned as being both expensive and impractical.
However, Boris’ detractors may not be aware that a crossing had already been constructed many thousands of years ago, by the one and only Fionn. The ancient method he, and his Scottish counterpart Bennandonner, used was quite similar to modern bridge-building – building simultaneously from each side of the span. Bennandonner toiled from the Scottish side and Fionn from the County Antrim coast, in the north eastern corner of Ireland.
How this joint project came about, was that one day Fionn was sitting on a cliff edge, just being mindful and breathing in the fresh sea air. Then, through his dream-like relaxed state he heard what he first perceived to be rumbling thunder. “But surely that couldn’t be” he thought, as he scanned the skies around him, all of which were clear and reflected in a sea of azure blue. He raised himself from his sitting position to his full enormous height, and scanned the horizon. Some twelve miles east, across the sea, he spotted what looked to be a tartan sheet, which seemed to be the source of these thunderous bellows. Using his big hand to shade the sun’s glare, what he saw flipped his previously zen state to the opposite end of the scale. Some big ugly fella in a ‘skirt’, roaring at him and flipping him the bird!
The Fightin’ Irish (kinda)
Well, Fionn never shirked a challenge and he started pulling tons of rock from the soil and began making a path through the sea towards his foe (no bureaucratic building delays in those days!). His big fists pounded the rock into the seabed. He toiled all day and noticed Bennandonner doing likewise from his side. As he got closer, Fionn realised that Bennandonner wasn’t as small as he first thought. Somewhat frighteningly, he was actually much bigger than Fionn.
Being a pragmatic sort, Fionn took the ‘discretion being the better part of valour’ approach. He turned tail and headed home, alerting his wife to the situation.
Irish Woman saves her Man (as usual)
Now Oonagh (you’ll have to come on tour to learn the pronunciation), being the brains of the relationship (of course), hatched a plan. She quickly put a bonnet on Fionn’s head and put him into bed, where he lay with eyes closed, sucking his thumb. Soon after, the ground shook and the door was almost taken off its hinges, as the big ugly oul’ visage of Bennandonner appeared, looking for Fionn. Oonagh quickly kicked him in the ankle and pointed to the corner where Fionn lay in the bed. Putting a finger to her lips, she whispered – “Shush – you’ll wake the baby”.
Well, Bennandonner took one look and realised if that was the baby, what was the size of the father going to be! He spun around, lifted his kilt clear of his knees and hightailed it fast as his legs would carry him back across the newly built causeway, only pausing to rip the rocks from the seabed to prevent Fionn from following. His getaway was so quick that as he pivoted his foot became caught in the causeway. The only way he could free himself was by abandoning the boot, which remains there to this day in a calcified state.
So never mind that geologists might tell you different, e.g., volcanic activity from 50 million years ago and so on. We Irish know the true story of how the Giants Causeway came to be. You can relive this and other great stories of myth, legend and history on your Anam Croí Ireland Tour.