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How The Causeway Came to Be
Edited and adapted from Irish folklore by Bridget Haggerty
What caused the Giants Causeway? Scientists say that millions of years ago, there were huge volcanic eruptions and after they were over, thousands of strange-looking columns appeared on the coast of Co. Antrim. Is that really what happened? The Seanchai*, or Irish story-teller, has a far different tale to tell.
It's said that the Causeway was built by a gentle giant, Fionn MacCumhain, or Finn McCool. Even legend, though, has its contrasting accounts. In one tale, Finn was said to be in love with a lady giant who lived on the Scottish island of Staffa, and that he built the Causeway in order to safely bring her home to Ireland. In fact, there's a similar though smaller collection of the strange columns on Staffa's coastline, and geographically, Ireland and Scotland were once much closer than they are today.
The other legend says that Finn built the Causeway due to an ongoing argument with a Scottish giant named Benandonner who could not swim. In an argument one day, while they were shouting at each other over the Sea of Moyle, Finn took a clump of earth and flung it at his enemy. The land fell in the sea and became the Isle of Man, while the huge hole left in Ireland became Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles.
As the arguments continued, Finn decided to build the Causeway in order to make it easy for Benandonner to come and fight him. After so much hard work, Finn was exhausted and he fell asleep.
Here again, there are different versions of the same story.
Oonagh was Finns wife. When she heard the sound of thunderous footsteps, she knew it was Brenandonner come to fight Finn. Oonagh took one look at the gigantic visitor on her doorstep and realised this was a battle Finn could never win. She threw a blanket over her sleeping husband and stuck a bonnet on his head. There was no possible way Finn could defeat Benandonner for he was too small.
Where's Finn?" roared Benandonner. "Shusha, shusha", whispered OOnagh - "You'll wake the wee one!" Benandonner looked at the snoring Finn. His jaw dropped 10 feet. If the child was that hefty, what size would the father be? Benandonner wasn't sticking around to find out. He ran like the wind, destroying part of the Causeway in his wake so Finn could not pursue him.
The other story says that Benandonner had arranged to fight Finn but when he got to Finn's house , Finn's wife said he had been delayed. To pass the time, the Scottish giant decided to play with the baby (who was actually Finn in disguise). Finn promptly bit off Bennandonner's magic middle finger. Finn knew that this would cause caused the Scottish giant to lose his strength. Brenandonner roared in pain and when he saw that his magic middle ginger was gone he ran back to Scotland, howling, never to be seen in Antrim again.
*Seanchai is pronounced shawnakey
Highland Heritage Society
Discover Northern Ireland
Index of All Children's Stories
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Wed, Jan 3, 2018
FOTA Wildlife Park
Only 10,000 cheetahs remain in their natural habitat and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork, Ireland, is the world's leading breeder of this endangered species. Fota is among the most modern wildlife parks in Europe. It was opened in 1983 and has more than 70 species living in natural open surroundings with no obvious barriers. Only the cheetahs are behind fences.
Another species which is being saved from extinction at Fota is the white tailed sea eagle. It disappeared from Ireland in the early 1900's, but is now being bred at the park and re-introduced to the wild in Co. Kerry.
Fota is open to the public in the summer and is very popular with Irish families, as well as tourists.
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"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.
A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.
Click here for Irish Songs.