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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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Thu, Apr 13, 2017
Making a May Bush for Beltane
Beltane is on May 1st and it’s a very old celebration to mark the beginning of the summer season. Long ago, children saved the colored shells from their hard-boiled Easter eggs and added them to the decorations for the May Bush which was a small shrub chosen for the honour. It was cut down and placed in front of the house in the days or weeks before Beltane. The children would then decorate it with flowers, ribbons, and Easter egg shells. Candles or rush lights* were attached to the bush and were lighted at dusk. In the cities, the May Bush was made by neighbours and sometimes there were attempts to steal it by folks from other neighbourhoods. It was said that you’d be taking the year's luck from the rightful owners. So, the May Bushes were fiercely guarded until the evening of May Day, when the bush would be cast into the Beltane Bonfire.
*To find out about rush lights, please click Wikipedia.
Photo Credit: RushMi.
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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.