This is a story cobbled together from eavesdropping on my mum and my friend Paul as they each, separately, told the story to our girl. Both are fine storytellers, which I’m afraid I’m not, but even if I was this is the sort of story that should be heard not read. I’m afraid to get the real thing you’ll have to move from your computer and find your neighbourhood fine Irish storyteller. Until then, you’re stuck with me.
This is a story about two giants, one Irish, one Scottish. Our giant is called Finn MacCool and the Scottish giant, Benandonner.
A long time ago, this land was guarded by the Fianna, fearsome, but honorable warriors. The leader of the Fianna was Finn MacCool. Across the water to the east (Scotland for you heathens with no idea of the geography of the Isles) there was another giant named Benandonner. Benandonner was a boastful sort and liked to brag of how strong and fearsome he was, and how much stronger and bigger he was than the leader of the Fianna, Finn MacCool.
Now, Finn MacCool did not let Benandonner’s boasting bother him for the longest time, but the insults escalated to a challenge to demonstrate their strength. Benandonner taunted Finn that it was only the sea that kept the Scot from destroying the Irish Finn as he was unable to swim across the water. Finn MacCool, fed up of the taunting and the marring of his good warrior name, tore rocks from the cliffs to make a causeway that stretched from Ireland to Scotland that would allow Benandonner to cross and make good on his challenge.
Tired from the hard labour of building the causeway, Finn retreated to his home to await Benandonner. The following morning as Finn MacCool still slept, Benandonner stepped onto the Causeway. The weight of Benandonner’s steps on the stones sent a thundering across the water and Oonagh, Finn’s wife, knew that the Scottish giant must be much larger than her own giant. Quick-thinking she wrapped her sleeping husband in a blanket and put a bonnet on his head. When Benandonner arrived at the house demanding to see and fight Finn, Oonaugh shushed him. Pointing to the sleeping giant she asked Benandonner to quiet and not wake Finn’s sleeping babe. Seeing the giant as a babe, Benandonner wondered how large the father must be, and scared he ran back quickly across the causeway to Scotland, ripping it apart in his haste.
And that is the story of how the Giant’s Causeway was made.
We took a quick trip up North last week to see some old friends from Tucson who live in Ulster. A lovely to visit, we stopped by the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Port Rush while we were there. The beaches were stunning, the weather a wee bit brisk, and the company delightful.