By Sophia Iliakis Doherty
We had an inkling as we climbed into the bus on our one day off that we’d be in for a cold and wild ride, but one never would have imagined just how wild! As we rocked and rolled on our way along the Derry coastline on the Causeway Coastal Route, we had a moment of peace. There was a calm before the storm as we stopped to take photos of a beautiful beachside holiday town where surfers couldn’t wait to take on the incoming waves; an ominous clue.
After this was a romantic bishop’s testament of love to his ‘mistress’ in the Downhill Demesne. Calm, pastoral scenes of sheep and mist over green cliffs that melted into the sea. You could just imagine the ‘mistress’ herself, looking out over these serene meadows with not a care in the world. Protected by her monuments gifted to her through a holy love. While we began to feel the hints of the sea’s anger at what may have been a disapproving gesture of an ‘unholy love’, we began to wonder what lie ahead.
It wasn’t long before our curiosity was satisfied… Finn McCool was waiting with a vengeance! We were warned by our good Garvin, (tour guide), that winds were up to 52 mph and that in 7 years of touring, he’d never seen such fierce weather at the Giant’s Causeway!
We braced ourselves for what we know would come as we fought out way against the gales to the rocky beaches that laid below. Monumental waves crashing into the ancient pillars of limestone – no challenge for Finn’s steps, as they were decimated upon arrival.
As some of our fearless group scaled the top of the pillars, I remained below taking photos of what appeared to be surreal activity above – miniatures of people atop giant pillars in gale force winds. Great photos, but not without some cause for concern. After all, there were no parachutes.
As myself and two others braved the paved path back up to the Visitor’s Center, I could feel the pressure of Finn’s wrath pulling me back to towards the depths, but I charged on with these other determined braved souls. “Not this time, my good Finn, not this time….” As we reached the top and made our way to the bus, I felt as though I’d been whipped a thousand times over by wind belts and rain pellets; indeed I was. Yet, there was a moment to pause at the magnitude of the wildness we’d just experienced. Awesome power of nature – compliments of Finn McCool and his legacy.