The Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland is one of our island's great natural wonders. It isn't, however the easiest to photograph. I have visited many times and it is rare to find moments when there are few people around, as almost a million visitors now make the journey to the north coast to see it. Couple this to the vagrancies of weather, wind and tide and the challenge of creating compelling images grows further.
On these visits, both alone or leading workshops, I have often wondered what the Causeway might look like underwater - could the seascape beneath the waves be equally compelling and do the basalt columns also appear on the sea floor? To answer this, I visited what is considered to be the geologic far-end of the Giant's Causeway - Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa in Scotland's southern Hebrides.
One of the best descriptions of this geologic wonder is in the Atlas Obscura – one of my favourite living room bookshelf residents. Here, we are told that "legend holds that they were the end pieces of a bridge built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, so he could make it to Scotland where he was to fight Benandonner, his gigantic rival". Ireland's myths and legends gives more detail: "Finally early one morning Finn’s path met Benandonner. Finn was delighted and was about to run across to find Benandonner when he saw him coming over the hill. Finn was shocked!!! Benandonner was twice his size as he looked twice as strong. Benandonner had not yet seen Finn so Finn ran back to his house. Finn asked Oonagh to help him hide. Oonagh was very clever and she thought of a cunning plan. She disguised Finn as a baby and put him into a huge cradle. Benandonner knocked on the door and Oonagh it. At that moment Finn dressed up as a baby pretended to cry. When Benandonner saw the size of the baby in the cradle he was terrified. If the baby was that big his father must be enormous Benandonner thought!! Benandonner turned as fast as he could and ran, ripping up the causeway behind him so that Finn would not follow."
Getting to Staffa is not as easy as driving to the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, however. The most usual starting points are boat trips from the island of Mull. These photographs were made on a diving weekend with Aquaholics, based on Ireland's north coast.
Beneath Fingal's Cave, Staffa, Scotland.Dappled light at the underwater entrance to Fingal's Cave on the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Basalt columns, Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. A diver's view of the entrance to Fingal's Cave, Staffa.