The legend of Finn Maccool's Causeway

by Mary Caperton Morton
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Credit: Mary Caperton Morton.

A long time ago, when giants ruled the Earth, a massive Irishman named Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Now, as everybody knows, giants can’t swim, so MacCool, an expert mason and not one to back down from a fight, built a walkway of hexagonal stones across the North Channel to the coast of Scotland so the two behemoths could meet.

Benandonner stormed across the sea on the walkway and pounded on MacCool’s door. Peering through the keyhole at his oversized opponent, MacCool lost his nerve. His wife, Una, told him to put on her bonnet and get into bed, then she answered the door, telling Benandonner her husband was out and she was home alone with their baby. When Benandonner saw the size of MacCool’s “baby,” he said, “If that’s the baby, how big is the giant?!” and ran all the way back to Scotland in fright, tearing up the walkway as he went.

Scottish geology backs up the tale: A similar formation of hexagonal columns from the same lava flow is found across the Irish Sea, near Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. More information can be found at:

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