Day 6 was our second day in Northern Ireland, and we started out by driving to one of Ireland’s most northern points: the Giant’s Causeway.
Scenery walking along to the causeway:
The causeway consists of around 40 000 interlocking, hexagonal stone columns.
Some of the columns pictured below (I really enjoyed watching the waves crash against and run over these ones):
The scientific version is that the columns are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, but personally, I prefer the legend of Fionn MacCool when explaining how the columns came to be.
As the legend goes (according to the version I learned at the causeway’s visitor centre), Fionn MacCool was a giant who lived along the northern Ireland coast with his wife. One day, looking across the water to Scotland (which is only 20 kilometres away in some places), Fionn MacCool saw a rival Scottish giant. Intending to fight him, but unable to swim, Fionn MacCool built a bridge with the stones so that he could cross over (thus the name “giant’s causeway”). However, once he got over there, Fionn MacCool realized that the other giant was actually much bigger up close than he had thought. Fionn MacCool ran back to Ireland, where his giant wife helped disguise him as a baby. When the Scottish giant came over the causeway, looking to fight, he found the “baby”, and immediately fled in terror – believing that if the baby was that large, the father must be extraordinary. As the Scottish giant ran, he ripped up the causeway behind him.
It’s a fun story and there’s even another, similar rock formation on the Scotland side, giving some credence to the legend.
The rock formations aren’t all there is to look at, though – the Giant’s Causeway is surrounded by some of the most epically beautiful scenery that I saw. It was probably equally as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher, but it had the added bonus of having far, far less people. Our group started out together exploring the rock formations, and then I went for a bit of a solo hike along the side of the cliffs, and along the top of them. Unfortunately my phone died midway, so I don’t have any views from the top, but in a way it was really nice – instead of focusing on capturing the moment, I got to just focus on the moment. Just me, the coast, the cool breeze, and the insane beauty that can exist in the world.
Some of my favourite shots from the causeway:
View from path along the side of the cliffs:
Some of the beautiful red rock visible in the picture. The “giant’s chimney” also visible, top right – supposedly the chimney for the giant’s house in the cliffs.
After the Giant’s Causeway, we moved on to Belfast, still in Northern Ireland. One of the things Belfast is known for is building ships, including, quite notably, the Titanic. We started out here at the Titanic Experience, located on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built.
The front of the museum is built to the size and shape of the Titanic, giving you a real sense of how immense it was as you walk up. Inside, the experience took you through the city of Belfast and its bustling economy at the time of the Titanic, the many ships they built, how the Titanic was built, and of course, how it sank. They also covered the stories and experiences of those on board, the aftermath of the disaster, and how teams eventually found and explored the wreck of the Titanic far below the ocean.
Setup of a first-class room aboard the Titanic:
Looking out from the glass bow of the Titanic, at the yards where the ship was built:
After the Titanic Experience, we enjoyed a short driving tour of the city, learning a bit about its history, and a little more about the Troubles from our Belfast guide.
Belfast driving tour:
Even more mural art (lots of murals in Londonderry/Derry and in Belfast):
The evening had us back at another pub (the pub life is going down as one of my favourite things about Ireland).
Pub for the evening – the Dirty Onion:
We spent the night chatting and listening to bluegrass music. I also had my first ever pint of Guinness that night, and immediately wished I hadn’t waited so late into my trip to start drinking it.
Overall, the day perfectly encapsulated many of the best parts of Ireland: extraordinary scenery, fascinating history, and drinking & music at pubs.
And the next day, we would head on to Dublin, for our final night on the Emerald Isle…