Monday, November 6, 2017

In the Footsteps of Giants (Ireland Day 4)

The top of Northern Ireland is home to the Giant's Causeway. The northern coast is beautiful country. My sister and I spent our fourth day in Ireland at the Causeway. This place is so awesome that it is the only repeat we did from our first trip. This time around the weather wasn't nearly as nice, but the rain held off until we were done exploring. The winds were ferocious, but not any worse than that part of the country sees.

The journey begins at the visitor's center. You can pick up free audio guides to listen to as you walk the paths. The beginning of the pathway is downhill, which is great. Until you have to walk back up. With the strong wind pushing against you. And the rain pelting you. All part of the fun!

There are two stories that tell the origins of the causeway. One uses science, the other folklore. Here is a link to a great little video that explains how to make your own Giant's Causeway:

Picture shows a cartoon Finn McCool and a causeway stone. It is the first frame of the video on the website
Click Here to link to the video

The second story is a lot more fun. A giant named Finn MacCool built the causeway himself. Finn and his wife, Oonagh, lived on the coast of Northern Ireland. He had a rival in the Scottish giant, Benandonner. Finn wanted to fight his enemy and decided to build a causeway of giant stepping stones to Scotland so he wouldn't get his feet wet. As he got closer to Benandonner, Finn realized just how giant he was. He quickly ran toward home. In his haste, he left behind one of his boots, which is now fossilized and still visible today.


Benandonner was of course upset and went after Finn. What does Finn do? He asks his wife, Oonagh, to help him hide. She dresses him as a baby and places him in a large cradle. When Benandonner arrives looking for Finn, he sees the very large "baby." Realizing that the father of such a large baby would have to be ENORMOUS, Benandonner turns tail home and on his way tears up the stepping stones. This explains why similar basalt columns can be seen on the Scottish island of Staffa.

See? I told you the second version of how the causeway came to be was more fun!

Pictured above are the Giant's haystacks. I could not remember the Irish word for the haystacks, so I Googled it. Imagine my surprise when the results I got were for Giant Haystacks, a professional English wrestler!

Image result for giants haystacks

After I had a good laugh, I found the word I was looking for, coca féir.

Finn also had a camel to transport him where he needed go. Apparently only the camel was strong enough to carry Finn. A spell was put on the camel and he turned to stone.

The Giant's chimneys:

And of course, Finn had a Granny always keeping an eye out for him:

The Giant's Gate:

Many visitors place coins in between the cracks when they pass through the Giant's Gate.

The Pipe Organ:

There is something about being on the coast. Listening to the waves crashing on shore, feeling the wind, smelling the air. It is such a surreal experience for someone like me, who lives in landlocked Utah. Although, living near the Great Salt Lake, I get to smell "lake stink." Lake stink is similar to the ocean breeze. Only concentrated.

The stepping stones are a great place to get some awesome pictures. It's also a great place to sit for a spell.

The weather started to turn, so we decided to head back to the visitor's center and do some shopping. Here are some cute signs I had to get pictures of:

By the time we were done, the rain and wind were pretty bad. I didn't have a hood on my jacket, so I whipped out my sheep umbrella that I purchased on my last trip to Ireland. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong and flipped my umbrella inside-out, breaking it. I had wondered why the locals weren't using their umbrellas. Duh. They know better! It's okay, though. I had an excuse to buy a new sheep umbrella!

On our first trip to Ireland, we shopped at a Dunnes Store. It was so much fun that we looked up another one this time around. Dunnes is like a Super Wal-Mart, only nicer. I had gotten my girls some of the cutest outfits I had ever seen, so I wanted to do it again.

Unfortunately, my girls are 5 years older and bigger. They wouldn't fit any of the fun outfits I found. I did, however, find them some cute shirts. This Dunnes ended up being only a textile store, so we didn't do any grocery shopping either.

After we checked in to our B & B, we headed out for dinner in Lisnakelly at a place called Oscar's.

I had a roasted potato salad with sweet chili sauce for starters and steak with garlic butter sauce. It also came with roasted garlic potatoes in a garlic butter sauce (not pictured). Can you tell I like my potatoes as much as the Irish?

Londonderry and Belleek are next!

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