LEGEND OF FINN MACCOOL

A story about the legendary giant who built the Giant’s Causeway has been told for generations.  The giant was 54 foot tall and he was called Finn McCool. This is the anglicised version of his Irish name Fionn mac Cumhaill. Although he is part of the Causeway creation myth, Finn features as the leader of a band of warriors called the Fianna in Irish stories that may date as far back as the third Century A.D.

The Causeway story tells us that Finn lived happily on the Antrim coast with his wife Oonagh until he discovered he had a rival in Scotland known as Benandonner. Finn was frequently taunted by Benandonner from afar and on one occasion Finn scooped up a clod of earth and hurled it across the sea at him but missed.  The huge clod of earth landed in the middle of the Irish Sea making the Isle of Man and the depression formed from scooping up the earth filled up with water to become Lough Neagh.

Finn finally challenged Benandonner to a proper fight and decided to build a causeway of enormous stepping stones across the sea to Scotland, so that he could walk across without getting his feet wet. But as he approached and caught sight of the great bulk of Benandonner, Finn became afraid and fled back home, with Benandonner hot on his trail. In his haste as he ran, Finn lost one of his great boots and today it can be seen sitting on the foreshore in Port Noffer where it fell to the ground.

The story takes a humorous twist when Finn asks his wife Oonagh to help him hide. Clever Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and pushed him into a huge cradle, so when Benandonner saw the size of the sleeping ‘child’, he assumed the father must be GIGANTIC. Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway as he went in case he was followed.

The story concludes that this is the reason that the Giant’s Causeway exists in north Antrim, with similar columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa.