By Janna Wale, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.
Have you ever had something you really wanted to do on your bucket list for such a long amount of time, that when you are actually accomplishing it you keep having moments of “Am I really here right now?” This is the kind of surrealism that overwhelmed me when I made it to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
It felt wonderful.
Simply put, the Giant’s Causeway is a portion of the Northern Irish coast shaped by the rapid cooling of super-heated magma from thousands of years ago into a series of hexagonally fractured rock columns. Picture rock honeycombs. The columns themselves are all different heights, but are all roughly the same size and are all almost perfectly flat on the top. Cool and yet totally mysterious right?
Now, what you need to remember is that Ireland rivals Scotland in terms of folklore, superstition and legend; studying in Scotland, one thing I have come to understand is that many highland traditions and cultural practices are still talked about or honored in every day Scottish life. They still hold traditional Ceilidh (Scottish folk music and dancing), and many of the men are still married in their traditional tartan family colors. The Irish associate the causeway with a legend of the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, who they believe built the causeway in order to reach Scotland.
The current scientific explanation for these stones, is that the magma cooled faster than normal – for some reason. The truth is, no one really knows why the causeway took and held these unique shapes despite being battered by the rough Irish seas for thousands of years. To me, this is a true wonder of the world, a book with the beginning few chapters missing. We know the characters and the ending, but where did it all start? What had a role in shaping the final chapters?
While I may not have the answers, I was able to walk on the stones that have mystified people for centuries and been the source of legend. The biggest adventure you can take is to live your dreams, and I was able to accomplish mine rain-soaked and frozen, but full of joy. I feel so incredibly blessed that I was given the chance to see the Giant’s Causeway, and I was reminded that there is no such thing as bad weather in Ireland, just different types of good weather. Although I may not know the mystery behind the stones, I know that once you Google “rock jokes” to spice up a blog, you’ve hit rock bottom.
Thanks for listening/reading,