Was the Giant's Causeway built for love?
Legend has it the Giant's Causeway was built and partially destroyed in a battle between two giants, Irish Finn McCool and the Scottish Benandonner but a little known version of the fable is that the Causeway was in fact built for love.
This lesser known story was in fact told by Causeway guides in the 1700s and early 1800s – of Finn building the Causeway for love rather than battle.
Then a lady called Eva Hov found a poem in a library in Trondheim, Norway, by Mary Anne Allingham of Ballyshannon, written after a visit to the Causeway in 1830. In the poem Mary Anne gives a version of the tale she was told by the guides.
Here it is retold once more:
Finn had fallen in love with a Scottish maiden. Sad that he couldn’t reach her, he walked along the shore, skimming stones out across the sea. Seeing the splash they made, Finn suddenly hit upon a plan – he would build a Causeway in order to see his love.
Finn laboured all day, and made good progress in his task, extending the Causeway nearly halfway across the sea. Tired, he went home to rest, confident he would finish the job the next day. But sadly his grandmother had other ideas.
Afraid of losing him forever to Scotland, she used her magic to call up an enormous storm. The waves and wind lashed the partly built Causeway and the rocks were torn apart. Finn awoke the next day to see his handiwork had disappeared.
Undaunted, he began to build a new Causeway. Once more the stones stretched out into the ocean, but that very night his work was destroyed. Finn tried again and again: the harder he laboured, the more violent the storms. Worn out, he made one last attempt, building on through the night.
The storms rose up around Finn, tearing at him with thunder and lightening, while wild waves beat at every rock he tried to lift. At last he reached the other side; but the trial was too much, even for a giant. Exhausted, he fell down and died in the arms of his beloved.
Behind him the Causeway he had built slipped below the waves for a final time. A mighty thunderclap went out and Finn’s Granny climbed to the top of a hill to see what had happened. Horrified by what her magic had done, she turned to stone. She stands there to this day.
If you visit the Giant's Causeway, look to the West of Port Ganny, the bay before the Little Causeway and you can see the stooped figure of Granny heading up the Stookans headland frozen in stone.