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Northern Ireland travel facts

Northern Ireland map
Area (sq km): 14,139
Population: 1,685,000
Nationality: British
Local Name: Ulster
Language: English
Time Zone: GMT
Currency: 1 pound = 100 pence
Rate: www.xe.com
Capital: Belfast
Dialling Code: +44
Electricity: 240V/50Hz
Internet Code: .eu and/or .ie
Religion: Protestant
Climate: Temperate Maritime
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Inoculations: None
Driving: Left
Int'l License: Not Required
Banking: M-F 9.00 – 15.30
Major Airports: Belfast(BFS),
Derry(LDY)

Northern Ireland tourist attraction Giants Causeway and Finn McCool

The uneven footing of the Giants Causeway dipping into the North Channel on Northern Ireland's north shore has elicited fantastic folklore and extensive geological research. The strange rock formations of the Giants Causeway are Northern Ireland's top tourist attraction, and are made more intriguing by the legend of Finn McCool.

Giants Causeway
Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway is one of few such rock formations across the globe resulting from the cooling of volcanic lava flow and once you understand the dynamics and have heard the stories associated with it, is without a doubt extraordinary and a must-see on your Northern Ireland holiday.

The Giant's Causeway is located on Northern Ireland's north shore, west of Rathlin Island and Bally Castle. The natural wonderland is a series of red, tight fitting basalt columns. Volcanoes erupted here about 60 million years ago. As the lava flow began to cool, the tall, narrow columns formed and almost interlock forming a solid platform that visitors can walk on.

Giant's boot and Chimney Stacks

The tallest column is 12 metres tall and most of the 40,000 columns are in a hexagonal shape. Look for such notable formations as the Organ, the Giant’s boot and the Chimney Stacks.

Aside from the natural wonder this formation inspires, it has two other great claims to fame. The first is that in 1986 the Giants Causeway was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This was the first one ever awarded to Northern Ireland. The second is the folklore tied to the Giants Causeway, which also is its namesake.

Finn McCool and Benandonner

Ever heard of the legend of Finn McCool? Finn McCool was an Irish giant that built the causeway in order to cross the North Channel to confront his Scottish rival, Benandonner. One account tells that Finn fell asleep on the causeway before he made it to Scotland. Benandonner came looking for him, so Finn’s wife, to protect him, covered him with a blanket and pretended he was her infant son.

When Benandonner saw the size of the infant, he understood that its father would be larger, thus he ran away in fear destroying the causeway as he went so Finn could never follow. Interestingly, in Scotland is a similar formation called Fingal's Cave on the Isle Staffa, often thought the as of the opposite end of the Giant’s Causeway.

Even without the legend of Finn McCool, one thing is certain, the Giants Causeway is most assuredly one of nature's great creations, one that challenges the mind and delights the eye. The shoreline in this area of Northern Ireland too, is particularly lovely with emerald greens contrasting the red hued basalt and the deep indigo of the sea. Only one and a half hours drive from Belfast, the Giants Causeway is a must-see tourist attraction on any Northern Ireland holiday itinerary.

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