|Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast|
Irish: Clochán an Aifir/Clochán na bhFomhórach
Ulster Scots: Tha Giant's Causey
|Official name||the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast|
|Designated||1986 (10th session)|
|State Party||United Kingdom|
The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. km) northeast of the town of Bushmills.It is located in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (5
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places.The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12
Much of the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site is owned and managed by the National Trust. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland,receiving over 998,000 visitors in 2019. Access to the Giant’s Causeway is free of charge: it is not necessary to go via the visitor centre, which charges a fee. The remainder of the site is owned by the Crown Estate and several private landowners.
Around 50 to 60 million years ago,during the Paleocene Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive volcanic plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which also fractured horizontally into "biscuits". In many cases, the horizontal fracture resulted in a bottom face that is convex, while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called "ball and socket" joints. The size of the columns was primarily determined by the speed at which lava cooled. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau, which formed during the Paleocene.
According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner.In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn's wife, Sadhbh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the "baby", he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal's Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.
In overall Irish mythology, Fionn mac Cumhaill is not a giant but a hero with supernatural abilities, contrary to what this particular legend may suggest. In Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), it is noted that, over time, "the pagan gods of Ireland [...] grew smaller and smaller in the popular imagination, until they turned into the fairies; the pagan heroes grew bigger and bigger, until they turned into the giants".There are no surviving pre-Christian stories about the Giant's Causeway, but it may have originally been associated with the Fomorians (Fomhóraigh); the Irish name Clochán na bhFomhóraigh or Clochán na bhFomhórach means "stepping stones of the Fomhóraigh". The Fomhóraigh are a race of supernatural beings in Irish mythology who were sometimes described as giants and who may have originally been part of a pre-Christian pantheon.
The Bishop of Derry visited the site in 1692. The existence of the causeway was announced to the wider world the following year by the presentation of a paper to the Royal Society from Sir Richard Bulkeley, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. The Giant's Causeway received international attention when Dublin artist Susanna Drury made watercolour paintings of it in 1739; they won Drury the first award presented by the Royal Dublin Society in 1740 and were engraved in 1743.In 1765, an entry on the causeway appeared in volume 12 of the French Encyclopédie , which was informed by the engravings of Drury's work; the engraving of the "East Prospect" appeared in a 1768 volume of plates published for the Encyclopédie. In the caption to the plates, French geologist Nicolas Desmarest suggested, for the first time in print, that such structures were volcanic in origin.
The site first became popular with tourists during the 19th century, particularly after the opening of the Giant's Causeway Tramway, and only after the National Trust took over its care in the 1960s were some of the vestiges of commercialism removed. Visitors can walk over the basalt columns that are at the edge of the sea, a half-mile walk from the entrance of the site.
The causeway was without a permanent visitors' centre between 2000 and 2012, as the previous building, built in 1986, burned down in 2000.While preliminary approval was given for a publicly funded (but privately managed) development by then Environment Minister and DUP member Arlene Foster in 2007, the public funding was frozen due to a perceived conflict-of-interest between the proposed private developer and the DUP. Ultimately, the private developer dropped a legal challenge to the publicly funded plan, and the new visitor centre was officially opened by 2012. Its construction was funded by the National Trust, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund and public donations. Since opening, the new visitor centre has garnered mixed reviews from those visiting the causeway, for its pricing, design, contents and placement across the causeway walk descent. In 2018, the visitor's centre was visited by 1,011,473 people.
There was some controversy regarding the content of some exhibits in the visitor centre, which refer to the Young Earth Creationist view of the age of the Earth.While these inclusions were welcomed by the chairman of the Northern Irish evangelical group, the Caleb Foundation, the National Trust stated that the inclusions formed only a small part of the exhibition and that the Trust "fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago." An online campaign to remove creationist material was launched in 2012, and following this, the Trust carried out a review and concluded that they should be amended to have the scientific explanation on the causeway's origin as their primary emphasis. Creationist explanations are still mentioned but presented as a traditional belief of some religious communities rather than a competing explanation for the causeway's origins.
Some of the structures in the area, having been subject to several million years of weathering, resemble objects, such as the Organ and Giant's Boot structures. Other features include many reddish, weathered low columns known as Giant's Eyes, created by the displacement of basalt boulders; the Shepherd's Steps; the Honeycomb; the Giant's Harp; the Chimney Stacks; the Giant's Gate and the Camel's Hump.
The area is a haven for seabirds, such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill, while the weathered rock formations host numerous plant types, including sea spleenwort, hare's-foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid. A stromatolite colony was reportedly found at the Giant's Causeway in October 2011 – an unusual find, as stromatolites are more commonly found in warmer waters with higher saline content than that found at the causeway.
Basalt columns are a common volcanic feature, and they occur on many scales, because faster cooling produces smaller columns.
The Belfast-Derry railway line run by Northern Ireland Railways connects to Coleraine and along the Coleraine-Portrush branch line to Portrush. Locally, Ulsterbus provides connections to the railway stations. There is a scenic walk of 7 miles from Portrush alongside Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway.
Fionn mac Cumhaill was a mythical hunter-warrior in Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The stories of Fionn and his followers, the Fianna, form the Fenian Cycle, much of it narrated in the voice of Fionn's son, the poet Oisín.
Staffa is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley Jr is a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Antrim since the 2010 general election. Previously he was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Antrim from 1998 to 2010. Paisley is a son of the DUP's founder Ian Paisley.
Devils Postpile National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located near Mammoth Mountain in Eastern California. The monument protects Devils Postpile, an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt. It encompasses 798 acres (323 ha) and includes two main attractions: the Devils Postpile formation and Rainbow Falls, a waterfall on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. In addition, the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail merge into one trail as they pass through the monument. Excluding a small developed area containing the monument headquarters, visitor center and a campground, the National Monument lies within the borders of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Portrush is a small seaside resort town on the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It neighbours the resort of Portstewart. The main part of the old town, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a mile–long peninsula, Ramore Head. It had a population of 6,454 people at the 2011 Census. In the off-season, Portrush is a dormitory town for the nearby campus of the University of Ulster at Coleraine.
Fingal's Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, known for its natural acoustics. The National Trust for Scotland owns the cave as part of a national nature reserve. It became known as Fingal's Cave after the eponymous hero of an epic poem by 18th-century Scots poet-historian James Macpherson.
The Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway (GC&BR) is a 3 ft narrow gauge heritage railway operating between the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills on the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The line is two miles (3.2 km) long.
Coleraine Borough Council was a local council mainly in County Londonderry and partly in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It merged with Ballymoney Borough Council, Limavady Borough Council and Moyle District Council in May 2015 under local government reorganisation in Northern Ireland to become Causeway Coast and Glens District Council
The Giant's Causeway Tramway, operated by the Giant's Causeway, Portrush and Bush Valley Railway & Tramway Company Ltd, was a pioneering 3 ft narrow gauge electric railway operating between Portrush and the Giant's Causeway on the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The line, 9+1⁄4 miles (14.9 km) long, was hailed at its opening as "the first long electric tramway in the world". The Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway today operates diesel and steam tourist trains over part of the Tramway's former course.
Arlene Isabel Foster is a Northern Irish politician who served as First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2016 to 2017 and from 2020 to 2021 and as Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from 2015 to 2021. She was the first woman to hold either position. Foster has been a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for Fermanagh and South Tyrone since 2003.
Portballintrae is a small seaside village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is four miles east of Portrush and two miles west of the Giant's Causeway. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 734 people, a decline of 10% compared to 1991. It lies within the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council area.
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. In 2018, the bridge had 485,736 visitors. The bridge is open all year round and people may cross it for a fee.
Jim Wells is a Northern Ireland politician, formerly of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who has been a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for South Down since 1998; he is one the longest serving MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Wells is also a former Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and was a councillor on Down District Council from 2001 to 2011.
Susanna Drury, later Susanna Warter was an Irish painter. Though little is known of her life or work, she was very influential in the development of Irish landscape painting. She is chiefly noted for her watercolor drawings of the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, which brought international attention to the site.
St. Mary's Islands, also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar, are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka, India. They are known for their distinctive geological formation of columnar rhyolitic lava (pictured).
Columnar jointing is a geological structure where sets of intersecting closely spaced fractures, referred to as joints, result in the formation of a regular array of polygonal prisms, or columns. Columnar jointing occurs in many types of igneous rocks and forms as the rock cools and contracts. Columnar jointing can occur in cooling lava flows and ashflow tuffs (ignimbrites), as well as in some shallow intrusions. Columnar jointing also occurs rarely in sedimentary rocks if they have been heated by nearby hot magma.
The North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) is a large igneous province in the North Atlantic, centered on Iceland. In the Paleogene, the province formed the Thulean Plateau, a large basaltic lava plain, which extended over at least 1.3 million km2 (500 thousand sq mi) in area and 6.6 million km3 (1.6 million cu mi) in volume. The plateau was broken up during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean leaving remnants existing in Northern Ireland, bits of western Scotland, the Faroe Islands, bits of northwestern Iceland, eastern Greenland and western Norway and many of the islands located in the north eastern portion of the North Atlantic Ocean. The igneous province is the origin of the Giant's Causeway and Fingal's Cave. The province is also known as Brito-Arctic province and the portion of the province in the British Isles is also called the British Tertiary Volcanic Province or British Tertiary Igneous Province.
Causeway Coast and Glens is a local government district covering most of the northern part of Northern Ireland. It was created on 1 April 2015 by merging the Borough of Ballymoney, the Borough of Coleraine, the Borough of Limavady and the District of Moyle. The local authority is Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
The Organ Pipes National Park, abbreviated as OPNP, is a national park located in the Central region of Victoria, Australia. The 121-hectare (300-acre) protected area was established with the focus on conservation of the native flora and fauna, and preservation of the geological features in the Jacksons Creek, a part of the Maribyrnong valley, north-west of Melbourne. It is situated in a deep gorge in the grassy, basalt Keilor Plains.
The Caleb Foundation, created in 1998, is a creationist pressure group in Northern Ireland. It also lobbies on a range of social policy issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage from an evangelical Protestant perspective, and has been particularly influential with Democratic Unionist Party ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive. The organisation has described its mission as "promoting the fundamentals of the historic evangelical Protestant faith".
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