Written by travel  |  09. March 2004

It's one of Europe's most visted tourist attractions, but many Americans are unaware of the grandeur of Ireland's Giants Causeway. That's because this stunning site of 40,000 basalt columns is located in Northern Ireland, not on the regular "tourist track" in the south which is familiar to most American visitors. With the peace initiatives in the North in recent years, however, more Americans are crossing the border and taking in the gorgeous scenic attractions in Ireland's Northern province of Ulster. And well they might. The Giants Causeway, for example, is designated as a World Heritage Site, with its mysterious columns stretching into the sea, looking like a pathway for, well, giants. And Irish mythology does say that the Causeway was built as a path across to Scotland by the Irish hero Finn McCool, when he planned to do battle with a rival Scottish giant. The scientific explanation is more mundane. Geologists theorize that the stone columns were formed by cooling volcanic lava. In any case, the Giants Causeway is a scenic wonder to rival any in Ireland, but it's not the only reason to visit County Antrim. Located just minutes away is the historic Old Bushmills Distillery, the world's oldest, where you can take a tour capped off by a wee drop of "the good stuff." Other nearby attractions include the breathtaking Glens of Antrim, with hidden coves, waterfalls, fishing villages, and the mountain where St. Patrick tended sheep as a slave. There's also Dunluce Castle, whose imposing ruins have been the location for a number of movies, and Carrick-a-Rede, a rope bridge spanning a 60-foot chasm. As for accommodations, you couldn't do better than the Bushmills Inn, with wonderful hospitality and a superb restaurant. Contact the inn at www.bushmillsinn.com. For further information on a trip to Antrim, contact Tourism Ireland at 1-800-223-6470, or log on to their website, www.tourismireland.com. Enjoy!

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