Many parts of Ireland are steeped in rich folklore which has given birth to generation after generation of wonderful storytellers.
As a child growing up Ireland, bedtime stories were a nightly ritual in my house, with both my Mother and Father possessing two very different storytelling styles.
My Dad would recount tales of mischief from when he was a kid, growing up in the once little village of Swords in Co. Dublin. He’d masterfully narrate wild tales packed with divilment that would always either leave me completely gobsmacked or have me rolling around the bed in fits of laughter.
My Mam, on the other hand, was good as gold and always kept out of trouble. When it was her turn in the hot-seat, I’d be treated to rich tales of folklore that were told to her by her parents.
To this day my favourite story is still the legend of the Giants Causeway and story of Finn MacCool – here’s how it goes.
The Legend of the Giants Causeway
Long long ago deep within the hills of County Antrim lived a giant who’s name was known the length and breadth of Ireland. His name was Finn MacCool.
Now Finn was no ordinary giant. Oh no.
Finn was the biggest and strongest giant in all of Ireland and his booming voice could be heard for miles and miles around.
Along came a messenger
One day completely out of the blue a weary messenger arrived to Finn’s home, which he shared with his wife.
The messenger had travelled all the way from Scotland to deliver a message from an infamous Scottish giant named Benandonner.
Benandonner wanted to challenge Finn to a fight so he could prove to Finn and everyone else that he was bigger and stronger than any giant in Ireland.
Although Finn had never laid eyes on Benandonner, he had heard whisper that he was the largest and most fierce giant in all of Scotland.
Enraged by Benandonner’s sheer cheek, Finn immediately accepted the challenge, but there was a slight snag – how would he get across to Scotland?!
He decided that the quickest way across would be to build a path big and strong enough to hold his weight.
Finn got to work on the path immediately and after making his way out to the Antrim coast, he began tearing up large chunks of coastline and firing them into the water.
Meanwhile, back in Scotland…
Back in Scotland, Benandonner heard word of what Finn was doing. Half surprised his challenge was accepted and half excited at the prospect of a brawl, he started tearing into the building of the path from his side.
After two long tedious days, a path long enough to connect the two countries had been built.
Still furious, Finn wasted no time and began charging across the path towards Scotland and Benandonner. However, across the pond, the exhausted Scottish giant had decided to grab 40 winks and ended up falling asleep by the shore.
When Finn arrived and laid his eyes upon Benandonner he was stunned speechless. Benandonner was big. Not just big – he was enormous.
A cunning plan was hatched
Deciding that he didn’t want to be around when Benandonner awoke, Finn retreated back to Ireland.
Once he reached his home in the hills he recounted what he saw to his wife. They both knew what would happen next. Once Benandonner realised Finn was not coming, he would thunder across the path to Ireland in search of his fight.
However, Finn’s wife had a master plan to save her husband.
Using bedclothes and some other material, she sowed some giant baby clothes together which she gave to Finn to change into. She then made him step into a large cradle that was kept in the living room by the fire where he huddled up like a baby.
At sunrise the following morning there was a loud knock on the door. Finn’s wife answered and there in the doorway stood the towering body of Benandonner.
She invited him in.
Like father, like son… or maybe not, actually!
Once inside Benandonner wasted no time in looking for Finn. First, he tore into the kitchen – but it was completely empty. He then burst open the door to the bedroom – but it was also empty. Finally, he entered the living room and he immediately caught sight of the cradle by the fire.
His eyes widened. The baby nestled inside was monstrous.
Benandonner was shocked. He thought that if this is how big the baby is then imagine what its father must be like.
He made his excuses and pegged it back to Scotland as quick as his massive feet could take him.
Nowadays, those visiting the Giant’s Causeway can get a glimpse of the area where Finn first began creating his path to Scotland long long ago.
Oh, I nearly forgot – and they all lived happily ever after!