The Great Causeway Giant: Part III
The Giant's Causeway (Alphonse Dousseau [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)
Here it is – the final part of The Northern Whig’s lengthy report on the finding of the Causeway Giant.
Perhaps you would now like my own opinion of the stone representation of the huge human figure, which during the past week has caused so much excitement here. Well, I am not a geologist, and consequently am in complete ignorance of mineralogical distinctions. For the life of me I could not distinguish basalt from the ordinary trap; and, although I have an idea of what is meant by the columnar class, I could not tell the amorphous from the concretionary, nor either of them from the ferruginous. If I were asked what I, in my ignorance, thought the Giant consisted of, I should unhesitatingly express my belief that he was chiselled out of Whitehead limestone, and well coated for a time with soft red clay; that, after he had been duly pickled for a while in a mixture of that sort, he had been carefully brushed down, so as to leave a sufficient quantity of the clay in the crevices and marks with which his body is covered so profusely.
With regard to the exhibitors of the Giant, there are three of them – a lady and two gentlemen – Mr. and Mrs. Dyer and Mr. Ford. They are all Americans, and have, it seems, been in this country for the past few months. Mr. Dyer is a shrewd, plausible gentleman, of about fifty years of age; his wife, a nice, lady-like person, takes a great interest in the discovery which her husband had made – and lifts the money; Mr. Ford, a sort of Franco-Yankee, aged about thirty-five, acts in the capacity of the business manager.
Mr. Dyer told me that he intended taking the Giant over to the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, and in answer to my statement that I thought exhibits should have been there long since, he said that it would be quite time enough before the 15thof July. After keeping it there until the Centennial closes, he stated that he would bring it back to Ireland and show it in Dublin and some others of the large towns, concluding with Belfast, from whence he would proceed to Glasgow.
No information can be obtained from him or any of the party as to the precise spot where the Giant was discovered. “County Antrim” is the stereotyped reply to all questions on the subject. It arrived at the Causeway Hotel late on Sunday night, or early on Monday morning, and it remained there until yesterday afternoon. During the first two days admission was free; the other two days a shilling was charged. While it lay in front of the hotel, Mr. Mack, photographer, of Coleraine, attended, and took a series of views of the figure and its surroundings, showing the hotel and the Causeway headlands in the background. Who after that would attempt to deny that it was found at the Causeway?
This forenoon the following placard was posted profusely in and around Portrush:-- “Ireland Ahead! The greatest novelty of the age is the discovery of the fossil remains of the Causeway Giant, which will be on exhibition at Coleman’s Hotel, Portrush, on Friday and Saturday, 2ndand 3rdJune, from ten a.m. till ten p.m. Admission, one shilling. Children half price. Schools by agreement. No exhibition on Sunday.”
Is not the very fact that the far-sighted people of this town paid their shillings to see the Giant another strong proof that the discovery is bona-fide? None of the guides or boatmen at the Causeway today could throw any light upon the gigantic fossil, or where it was found, and they seemed greatly chagrined that, with all their ingenuity in the way of money making, and supplying “boxes of specimens,” they allowed the Yankees to box the most wondrous specimen ever heard of in the district.
And here I may be allowed to relate an incident at once interesting and affecting. Some few months ago there arrived, on the County Antrim side of Belfast Lough, three gentlemen from America. They came on a somewhat painful mission. A short time previously there had expired in the Far West a gentleman whose birth had taken place in this “dear ould country.” He had left it many years ago, but in the land of his adoption Providence had smiled on his honest and indefatigable labours, and his dying request was – indeed, if I mistake not, it was also embodied in his will – that over his remains there should be erected a huge cross of Irish limestone.
In strict obedience to the request of this patriotic Irishman, the trio of Americans arrived at the locality mentioned some months since, and soon entered on their work upon a huge block of limestone from Whitehead. I understand that afterwards a second block was procured. I need not just now indicate the exact scene of their labours; but almost day and night they plied the mallet and chisel. No one was allowed to enter the temporary edifice which was used as a workshop, and in which they were so busily employed preparing this ancient national monument which was to adorn in a far distant land the grave of the true-hearted Irishman now no more.
A short time since the work was announced to be completed, and the Americans took their departure, but no one, so far as I can discover, has yet witnessed the finished piece of workmanship. On last Friday a lorry, laden with a large wooden case, was seen going through Ballymena, and, if I mistake not, passed on Saturday night through Ballymoney. The mention of this incident shows the interest taken in this country by the Yankees. At the Causeway we have one batch bringing to light the petrified remains of a great, very great, man of other days, while here, close to Belfast, we have another batch preparing a gigantic tombstone for a departed Irishman in America!
A good deal of curiosity will now be manifested over the North of Ireland as to the exact spot where the “Great Causeway Giant” was found. Mr. Dyer will, no doubt, soon become less reticent, supply full particulars, and produce the workmen who assisted at the interesting excavation. Messrs. McCrea and McFarland, the well-known carriers, will also doubtless relate how far their vehicle carried the huge coffin. Our scientific friends, the Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club amongst the number, are certain to have an excursion down to see both the Giant and Mr. Dyer, and in a few days the public will likely have full details of this wonderful discovery.
- The Northern Whig, 3 June 1876