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Giants Causeway tops for Ireland in global wonders list

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Travelers have spoken, and several Irish sites have made the list of the Top 100 Greatest Places to Stand on the Planet.

StoodThere.com has put forward 100 of “the World’s most wondrous, inspiring, or thought-provoking locations,” and has invited people to vote for the Greatest Place to Stand on Planet Earth 2009.

Two Irish locations have been included in the list, which is mostly voted on by Americans and Brits. A site’s ranking changes as more people vote, but as of July 10, The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland is ranked at 47, while Temple Bar comes in at 91.

The Giant's Causeway, declared a World Heritage site in 1986, is a coastal area of about 40,000 basalt columns near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.

Its unique and fascinating stepping stone formation is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption that occurred 60 million years ago.

Irish myth, however, explains its origins differently. Legend has it that an Irish giant named Finn MacCool once lived in the area. He challenged his rival, the Scottish giant Benandonner, to a fight. Because no boat was big enough to carry the giant, Finn built a causeway of stones in the water so that Benandonner would be able to make it across.

When Finn realized the Scottish giant was far bigger than he had expected, he fled to the hills where his wife disguised him as a baby. This move foxed Bennadonner because he thought that if the child was that big, the father would be even bigger. Benandonner fled back to the Scotland, ripping up the causeway behind him, so that Finn wouldn’t be able to follow him.

Temple Bar may not have as much Celtic myth attached to it, but it’s a great place to stand, nonetheless. An area on the south bank of the Liffey in Dublin, Temple Bar has a preserved medieval street pattern which features charming cobblestone streets.

The Irish Photography Center, the Irish Film Institute, the Temple Bar Music Center, Temple Bar Gallery and Studio, the Gaiety School of Acting, the Irish Stock Exchange and the Central Bank of Ireland all lie in the area, which is known as Dublin’s “cultural quarter.”

It’s also home to a hopping nightlife, with many popular bars in the area.

Giants Causeway and Temple Bar both made the Top 100 Greatest Places to Stand in Europe as well, along with a couple other famous Irish sites.

The Blarney Stone in County Cork clocks in at number 9, while Newgrange in County Meath currently ranks 27th.

One of Ireland’s top attractions, the Blarney Stone lies in Blarney Castle in Cork. To reach the stone, one must climb the long, winding staircases of the castle.

The legendary stone is set into the tower, and it is said that by kissing it, you will be granted the “gift of the gab.”

Newgrange was built about 5,000 years ago, and is Ireland's most famous prehistoric site.

The passage tomb is especially well-known for its Winter Solstice event. The ancient tomb was built in such a way so that on this day, it is illuminated by a narrow beam of sunlight which shines through a specially designed roof box. Those who have seen this say it’s an unforgettable experience.

To cast your votes for any of these Irish sites the Greatest Place to Stand on Planet Earth 2009, or to suggest great places to stand in Ireland that are not yet included in the list, visit StoodThere.com.

Voters are encouraged to put pictures of themselves at the sites as proof of them having been there, and the vote closes December 1, 2009.

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