Giant's Causeway Pillar – Charleston, South Carolina - Atlas Obscura

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Giant's Causeway Pillar

A stack of stones steeped in Irish folklore, much like the hero they're connected to, hide in plain sight. 


Roughly 40,000 basalt columns formed naturally from volcanic activity rise along the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Minus, that is, the one found outside of Charleston’s historic Hibernian Hall. The pillar section arrived in 1851, roughly a decade after Irish immigrants began arriving in the Palmetto State escaping the Great Famine. It was also exactly 11 years after Thomas Ustick Walter completed the Greek Revival style building where the column now stands. 

According to Gaelic mythology the Giant’s Causeway, as the name implies, was constructed by giant/hero Fionn mac Cumhaill (aka Finn MacCool). In one version of the tale, he builds the bridge to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner. In an alternate version, rather than battle his opponent, Fionn’s wife disguises him as a baby. Upon seeing such a massive child, whom Benandonner assumes is the offspring of his rival, he believes that Fionn must be a giant even by giant standards and promptly returns to Scotland, destroying the causeway in the process. 

Given the frequent and massive labor needed to rebuild Charleston following fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, it seems somehow a fitting place for the fabled remnants of an Irish hero’s ruined bridge. 

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July 1, 2021

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