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Go Tell It On The Mountain

Mythical tales of giants are rooted in geological realities.

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim. According to the Fenian Cycle, Fionn mac Cumhaill, an Irish giant, was challenged to a fight by his Scottish rival Benandonner. Accepting the challenge, he built the causeway so that they could meet.A fo ben, bid bont (‘let he who leads bear the load’) is a Welsh proverb rumoured to recall the giant Brân, often Bendigeidfrân (Brân/Frân the Blessed), who was so tall that he once stretched himself between the banks of a river so that his troops might cross. In earlier stories, Brân, who no normal house could contain, is portrayed as a wise king whose severed head continued to counsel his people after his death. The best-known stories of Brân appear in the Mabinogion, written in the 12th century and based on long-standing oral traditions. Brân’s stature allowed him to stride across the Irish Sea to rescue his hapless sister from a failed marriage. In the Mabinogion he is said to have been able to traverse deep parts ‘by wading’; clearly he must have been gigantic.

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