A legend linked to a landform: Irish giant Finn McCool seethed with hate for his hulking rival Benandonner (a love-torn giantess may have been the root of their aversion). Finn and Ben (my nickname) shouted insults at each other across the North Channel, unable to physically fight because no boat was big enough to carry their bulk. A raging bull, Finn built a causeway between the shores, a Herculean task that tired him so, he fell fast asleep upon laying the last stones. Finn awoke to see Ben barreling toward him, a formidable foe at almost twice his size. Frightened into fleeing, Finn let his wife swaddle him in blankets, simulating a sleeping bundle beside the fire. Mrs. McCool, keeping her cool, welcomed in her husband’s enemy, asking him to wait by the hearth with the baby. Seeing the massive lad, the Scot assumed Finn must be comparatively colossal, so he scurried back to Staffa, tearing up the causeway as he went.
Ergo the broken outcropping of basalt columns, mirrored on both shores, left by the same ancient lava flow. Northern Ireland’s version, Giant’s Causeway, finds 40,000 interlocking posts leading from the cliff foot into the sea, most hexagonal and low, but some standing 39 feet high.
The cobbled causeway reminds me of the Holy Grail booby traps in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” the second of which riddles “The Word of God: Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed.” Sub giant and you’ve got this gorgeous Irish gangplank, which I picture myself teetering across in this haute hexagonal dress.