In her new series Hannah Huxley takes us on a tour of Great Irish Landmarks, beginning with The Giant’s Causeway
For centuries, the breath-taking coastline of Ireland has long been viewed as an otherworldly phenomenon and has been the magnificent backdrop to many a mythical tale, scientific debate and artistic inspiration.
Today, tucked away on the blustery, sleepy coastline of Antrim in the north of Ireland, peacefully lies one of the world’s most famous landmarks and a precious jewel in the crown of the island, The Giants Causeway.
The story of the Giants Causeway begins some 60 million years ago at the start of the Palaeogene period. During this time, the continents as they stood began to fragment, which caused the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean and cataclysmic volcanic activity that resulted in lava pouring onto the existing landscape.
Molten basalt erupted through chalk beds and formed a lake of lava; this cooled and contracted to form hexagonal steppingstones which are the beautiful, ethereal structures seen creeping into the sea today.
There are approximately 40,000 of these stone structures, each with five to seven irregular sides. The stone structures themselves are not the only formations which need protecting; the cliffs and seashores are a haven for the marshes and grasslands which encompass the Giants Causeway and are home to 50 species of birds and 200 species of plants.
Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own