Thursday, 29 November 2012

A visit to the Giant' s Causeway

Our nursery children were involved last year in painting hexagonal stones that would be part of an exhibition created by children in many local schools.  The project was funded by DSD through Causeway Enterprise Agency.  It involved working with Louise McLean a local artist who specialises in willow sculptures.  We had worked with Louise before creating a Willow nativity and knew this project would be interesting and link in to our nursery curriculum in terms of Creativity and finding out more about the World Around Us.
The Giant's Causeway is the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland.  Resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, this is the focal point of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern Ireland and has attracted visitors for centuries. It harbours a wealth of local and natural history.
The formation of the Giant's Causeway was due to intense volcanic activity. Lava welling up through fissures in the chalk bed formed a "lava plateau". Three periods of volcanic activity gave rise to the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts, and it's the Middle Basalt rock which forms the famous amphitheatres of hexagonal columns in the Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway is steeped in myth and legend. Some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool who left behind an ancient home full of folklore. On our visit we were accompanied by a guide who encouraged the children to  looked out for clues to the existence of the mighty giant, Finn McCool – including the Giant’s Boot, The Wishing Chair, The Camel, Giant’s Granny and The Organ.
Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhail) was an Irish Giant who lived near the sea, close to Bushmills.
One day a Scottish Giant named Benandonnar began to shout insults and hurl abuse from across the channel. In anger Finn lifted a clod of earth and threw it at Benandonnar as a challenge, the earth landed in the sea.
Benandonnar threw a rock back at Finn and shouted that Finn was lucky that he wasn't a strong swimmer or he would have made sure he could never fight again.
Finn was enraged and began lifting huge clumps of earth from the shore, throwing them so as to make a pathway for Benandonnar to come over . However by the time he finished making the crossing he had not slept for a week and so instead devised a cunning plan to fool the Scot.
Finn disguised himself as a baby in a cot and when Benandonnar came to face him Finn's wife Una told the Giant Benandonnar, that Finn was away but showed him his son sleeping in the cradle. The Scottish giant became worried, for if the son was so huge, what size would the father be?
In his haste to escape Benandonnar sped back along the causeway Finn had built, tearing it up as he went. He is said to have fled to a cave on Staffa which is to this day named 'Fingal's Cave'.
On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of Finn’s Scottish opponent, Benandonner’s homeland of Scotland.
Our children and their parents really enjoyed their visit to the new centre and the Causeway.Guided tours of the Causeway are available by arrangement for groups of more than 15 people, and there is access for visitors with disability. The area is suitable for picnics, cliff and country walks, and dogs are welcome on leads.

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