The Giant's Causeway - Sketches of Olden Days in Northern Ireland

From Sketches of Olden Days in Northern Ireland by Rev. Hugh Forde

« Dunluce Castle | Contents | Dunseverick Castle »

Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

This marvellous formation, considered one of the wonders of the world, and visited by tourists from every part of the earth, consists of three divisions called The Grand, The Middle, and Little Causeways, and is composed of polygon pillars of the most various and irregular angles, and yet so closely connected that the blade of a penknife cannot be inserted between them. The prevailing type is hexagonal, but one three-sided pillar has been found near the centre of the honeycomb, and several nine-sided have been recently discovered. Strangers in general, says Doyle, from whom I quote, associate with it the idea of grandeur, whereas the Causeway itself is comparatively far from being a striking object. It consists of a natural mole about 300 yards long, and at its greatest elevation not quite 40 feet above the level of the sea; so visitors are at first disappointed, but a nearer inspection will impress all with wonder. It is not till one is fairly on the surface of the mole, and walks along the polygonic pavement, that his amazement will be fully excited. Its want of magnitude is compensated by its extraordinary beauty and singularity. Though the polygons are all irregular, it is a singular fact that the faces of the adjacent pillars are equal, and thus space is occupied without the slightest loss. Each pillar is perfect in itself, and is separable from the rest. On the west side of the Causeway, just below the Giant's Punchbowl, a well of the purest water will be found springing from between the fine interstices of the pillars, and by the removal of one of the joints a beautiful little hexagonal basin is formed, from which a draft of icy water can be procured in the hottest day in summer. Sir Humphrey Davy often visited the Causeway when fishing in the Bush, and talked with the guides and gave them much information. John Whitehurst, who wrote in 1786 a treatise on the “Original state and formation of the Earth,” has written with much accuracy on the Causeway. Of its origin he says: “ Some doubts may arise, since no visible crater nor the least vestige of an extinct volcano is now remaining from which such enormous torrents flowed so as to cover so large an area”; but, he adds, “whoever attentively considers these remarkable cliffs will, I presume, soon discover sufficient cause to conclude that the crater from which the melted matter flowed, together with an immense tract to the north, has been absolutely sunk and swallowed up at some remote period of time, and now lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.” The Rev. William Hamilton, in his letters on the coast of Antrim, and Dr. Richardson of Clonfecle, have written with much care, and recorded observations of great value worthy of attention. The caves are interesting. Portcoan cave is one of the finest. It is best seen from the water, and is so extensive that a boat may row into it with ease for at least 80 yards.

« Dunluce Castle | Contents | Dunseverick Castle »