The Giant’s Causeway-A Hidden Irish Treasure.
This is a short article about one of the nicest and most famous landmarks of my locality in Ireland, for those interested in travel. We also have a quick look at some examples of relative clauses contained in the article. My name is Martin Quinn, a teacher of English, and you can connect with me here on Verbling.
Ireland is a popular destination for tourists, though many visitors opt for southern cities like Dublin or Galway, and don’t get to see the many rural treasures the rest of the country has to offer. However, many visitors are now finding their way up north, to places like Belfast and beyond, and are discovering the glorious horizons of the north coast, whose shores sit on the North Atlantic Ocean. In this part of the country, which contains the world-famous Giant’s Causeway and the hidden secrets of the Spanish Armada, there are many beautiful sights to see. This far-northern coastal stretch of land neighbours the north-eastern Glens of Antrim, a series of valleys which look over at the Scottish coast, which is only 12 miles, or 20 kilometres, at its closest point to Ireland.
Although considered a quiet rural place, this part of County Antrim has had a turbulent history involving Gaelic clans from Scotland and Ireland fighting for domination over each other and also against the English crown, and the intervention of the Spanish during their attempted naval invasion of England by the Armada in 1588. While many people know of the defeat of the Spanish forces by Francis Drake’s fleet in the English Channel, the story of the Armada’s disastrous return home along the Irish coastline is lesser known. The Girona was one of the 24 Spanish fleet which ended up shipwrecked on the Irish coast, when it hit Lacada Point, beside the Giants Causeway, killing the majority of the 1,300 Spanish sailors trying to return home. The nine survivors were helped by the local Clan lords of Antrim, the MacDonnells of Dunluce Castle, who helped the survivors escape the English forces who were looking for them. The shipwreck was recovered in 1967-68, and the ship’s treasure and artefacts can be seen in the Ulster Museum in Belfast.
This is only one story associated with the Giant’s Causeway, considered a natural wonder of the world for its unique basalt pillars, which are shaped like hexagons. It was formed about 60 million years ago by intense volcanic activity and at a time, formed a land bridge to Scotland. However, we in Ireland are sceptical about this scientific explanation and believe that the Causeway was actually built by a giant called Finn MacCool, who wanted to fight a Scottish giant called Benandonner! This and many other tales can be heard in the tourist centre close to the famous rocks, or in the many bars in the area. The Giant’s Causeway can be accessed by tourist bus from the nearby village of Bushmills, which is also home to the world-famous whiskey distillery, and you can also get the local service buses from nearby towns such as Ballycastle, a beautiful coastal town overlooking Scotland and Rathlin Island.
Getting to this part of the country can be done from Belfast by car hire, bus to Ballycastle or bus or train to the town of Coleraine, or even the bus to Bushmills. Each of these places have bed and breakfast accommodation, which provides one of the most comfortable and popular forms of tourist accommodation in Ireland. Personally, I recommend the picturesque Ballycastle for its bus connections to Belfast and the Causeway, and its other activities, which I will tell you about another day. It’s certainly a different and lesser known part of Ireland to visit so there aren’t as many tourists, but you will find the local people very friendly and willing to extend a welcome to visitors from around the globe.
Grammar Spot-Relative Clauses.
The article has many examples of relative clauses, which are used to add extra information about nouns in sentences, so they are useful for tourist articles as they give the reader a lot more information about the destination and tourist activities. They are also used to connect smaller sentences into bigger sentences by replacing pronouns with relative pronouns, so they can be useful to students trying to improve their sentence structure for exams or professional writing in business situations for example, and many other situations requiring extended answers or explanations.
They can be defining clauses or non-defining. But what exactly are these?
Defining Relative clauses.
These define the noun and the sentence, and moreover, the sentence would be incomplete or without sense without them. Examples of these from the article are:
The Girona was one of the 24 Spanish fleet which ended up shipwrecked on the Irish coast,
Here, there is only one specific thing which is being referred to, which is the Spanish fleet.
Non-defining Relative Clauses.
These add extra information and are introduced by a comma. They are not necessary for the sentence to make sense and contain non-essential facts or information. Examples from the article are:
The Giant’s Causeway can be accessed by tourist bus from the nearby village of Bushmills, which is also home to the world-famous whiskey distillery
The clause simply adds another interesting fact about the village of Bushmills.
I personally recommend the picturesque Ballycastle for its bus connections to Belfast and the Causeway, and its other activities, which I will tell you about another day.
The writer wants to tell the reader more about the activities but adds that this information will come in another article.
These introduce the relative clause and replace pronouns to connect smaller sentences into extended discourse. The most common are which (things), who (people), when (time), where (location) and whose (indicating possession).
That cannot be used in a non-defining relative clause so which must be used in these. It is a simple thing to remember that in a non-defining clause, there is a comma and the pronoun that can never come after the comma in these clauses.
Whose is often confused with who’s, which is actually a contraction of ‘who is’, so always remember this when writing, especially in exams.
What is not a used as relative pronoun but learners might get confused as relative pronouns are generally also used as question words. Question words and relative pronouns also generally start with the letters wh-. However, what is used mainly as a question word but never as a relative pronoun, so it is the exception. The most common error concerning what in relative pronouns is that it tends to be confused with which or that, which are both used for things.
Reduced Relative Clauses with Passive Verbs.
If a relative clause is introduced by a passive, you may omit the relative pronoun and the auxiliary verb to be, which is used to form the passive voice. It is often used to cut word count or to make the sentence read or sound better. An example from the article is:
This is only one story associated with the Giant’s Causeway, (which is) considered a natural wonder of the world for its unique basalt pillars
The sentence is fine with or without which is so depending on the writer, these words can be omitted if wanted or required. However, if the verb is active, the relative pronoun is essential to the sentence, as in the example below:
Each of these places have bed and breakfast accommodation, which provides one of the most comfortable and popular forms of tourist accommodation in Ireland.
Now Search the Article for More Examples of Reduced Relative Clauses!
Here, I have explained some of the more common forms of relative clauses and ways of reducing them, but can you notice any other reduced forms which I haven’t mentioned? There are many ways to reduce these sentence parts, and I would be very happy to explain them to you if you would like to leave a comment here. .