Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

The Giant’s Causeway

Though it was too late in the day, to go check out the Giant’s Causeway, it was also far too early, to go to bed. We decided to go for a little walk. We were on the edge of the village of Bushmills. It appeared to be a pretty, little place, one worthy of a meander about. We walked down to the road at the bottom of the lane, visiting with the horses in the pasture next door on the way. I don’t know that we’ll ever grow out of our fascination with equines of any kind. These horses were very Irish. They were colourful, had lovely feathers and would’ve been perfect in any movie that needed an Irish looking horse or three. As curious as can be, they came over to the gate to visit and receive their share of pats. We gave them handfuls of the grass on our side of the fence, as it certainly was far greener than, their lush pasture possibly was. At least, that’s what they told us. The biggest of the three gave me a strange feeling, like I had to be wary of it, so I was. It’s not that it did anything that said, ‘hey, I’m a bit of a butthead’, yet that’s the sense we felt from it. When I reached down to pick a last handful of grass before carrying on with our walk, sweetpea caught her breath.

I looked at her somewhat shocked yet amused expression, and gave her a smile of query back, “what happened?”

“Um,” she opened her blue-green eyes wider, “you bent down just at the right time. The big horse tried to bite you, but missed. It was like it was trying to put your whole head in its mouth,” she nervously laughed, “I’m not kidding.”

“The jerk,” surprised yet not, I slowly shook my head, “that wouldn’t have been good at all. Well, we knew something wasn’t right with him. He does give off that something weird, like he’s not trustworthy.”

“That’s for sure,” she wholeheartedly agreed, “what a brat. That was good timing on your part.”

“I’m kind of sorry I didn’t see it coming,” I reflectively mused, “then maybe I could’ve pinched his lip, and maybe he wouldn’t have bitten again.”

Now, some would say we shouldn’t have been feeding them grass, yet we couldn’t resist visiting them. The grass really was the same, as anything on their side of the gate, no matter what the horses said to the contrary. We’re horse people. We know how to handle whatever comes our way, and certainly aren’t doing them any harm. I’m reminded of a time, when I was asked to go along to look at some weanlings, a friend was interested in. There were a few of us who entered that pen of big babies, big babies that nipped nonstop. It was ridiculous. I’d never been amongst so many biting horses in my life, and I wasn’t about to allow it to happen, at least not to me. Any weanling that reached for me was met with a pinch to the lip. Pinch, pinch, pinch, until suddenly, they weren’t nipping me anymore, yet still were after everyone else. It didn’t take very long, before the fact that I wasn’t being nipped was noticed. I showed them how I’d stopped the unacceptable behaviour, and that was the end of the biting. I didn’t get the chance to mete out any mild justice to the big, spotted horse, but then, he didn’t try to bite if he was being watched. He was a tricky one, that big gelding. It did make us wonder if others had been bitten. Anyone who wasn’t careful could’ve easily fallen victim, to an unexpected bite.

We went for a little walk, not too far, as we didn’t have tons of time before it got dark, but did get to see a bit of the village. Like many Irish villages, it’s very pretty and full of history. It’s also home to Bushmills Distillery, which we decided we’d take in. As I’ll cook with beer but am not a fan of drinking it, this seemed right up my alley. The girlchild and I, were both interested in a tour. So far, there was the distillery to have a tour of, the Giant’s Causeway to clamber all over, and then there was Dunluce Castle a short walk away. At least, we hoped it was a short walk away. We were in Ireland after all, where a minute could be ten, and a two mile walk apparently takes five minutes. For all we knew, the castle ruin could be ten miles away. Still, wherever it was, and however far away, we were going to see it. I do love a castle, especially a ruin. It’s the stuff that stirs the imagination. Just imagine the stories, the walls could tell.

Bright and early the next morning, we headed for the Giant’s Causeway. It’s the most amazing, natural formation we had ever seen, and definitely worthy of the attention it receives. The site of many movies, it has an aura about it that can’t be denied. So many hexagon columns pushed up by volcanic pressure eons ago reach to the sky. So many are worn smooth by the thousands upon thousands of feet that have trod their hard surfaces for many centuries, as well as the action of the an ever moving ocean’s action. Though many are always exposed, there are still those that get covered during high tide. In the tide pools of many colours, there are tiny fish that jump from the edges, back into the water. They amazed us with their ability to stay out of the water, then leap into the tide pools, at the slightest hint of danger. We climbed all over those columns, explored the bit of a building ruin off the steep road that was the only way down to the causeway, and enjoyed every bit of it. We also spent a bit of time in the Causeway Interpretive Centre. Full of the history of the area, we also learned the folklore surrounding the Causeway.

A causeway is a means of getting somewhere, a bridge of sorts that joins two areas together. If you’re exploring the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll certainly notice that it simply disappears into the ocean. It’s not a causeway at all. It doesn’t lead anywhere at all, except in folklore. Those who are interested, know that across from the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, is the same sort of geographical feature, columns and all. The way the story goes, is that at one time, the causeway was complete. It extended from the shore of Ireland all the way to Scotland. Back then, it was the lands of giants, giants who didn’t get along with each other. The giant on the Scottish side was Benandonner, a true Giant who was a rival of Finn, who was a giant in Irish folklore, but not really one in real life. This giant of a man from Ireland went by the name of, Finn McCool. Finn and Benandonner shouted at each other from across the water, for on a clear day, the Scottish Island of Staffa, can be seen from the Antrim Causeway. In his bravado, Finn challenged the giant Benandonner and went so far as to move stones to build the causeway to Scotland. When he completed this task, he was shocked to find that his adversary was a most formidable foe, and a true giant as well. Deciding he’d be foolish to take on such a foe, he quickly hurried back towards Antrim, but was spotted by the Giant.

Racing to his home in County Kildare, he dreaded the arrival of the Scottish giant, even as the sound of his footsteps echoed over the land. Fortunately for Finn, he had a very smart wife. She wrapped him in a sheet and had him climb into the bathtub, just in time, too, for the Scottish giant had been hot on Finn’s heels. She then went to meet the giant at the door, and apologizes. Finn is away hunting deer. She is hospitable, and shows him things to make her husband appear bigger and stronger than he was, finally ending by showing him the supposed baby, who is actually Finn wrapped in a sheet. He took one look at the baby, and got out of there as quickly as he could. After all, if the baby was that big, he didn’t want to meet the father. On the way back to Scotland, he tore up the middle of the causeway, so the Giant Finn McCool couldn’t follow him. Of course, I’ve told the short version, but the whole story can be found online. Sweetpea and I could well imagine, parents reading such a tale to the children before bed at night. The Irish have a great sense of humour, and are great storytellers as well.

On to the distillery we went. There was a tour to take, and a bit of a tasting as well in our future.


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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB