In a land blessed with more than its fair share of extraordinary landscapes and natural beauty, it’s still impossible not to be moved by one of Ireland’s most impressive coastal features.
Stretching some 8kms along the Atlantic coastline, the Cliffs of Moher are simply breathtaking.
The spectacular walking trail is a must on any itinerary (no – you don’t have to walk the full stretch!). Panoramic views, the sheer drop into the crashing ocean below, the blast of fresh sea air – an unforgettable experience.
A witch named Mal fell deeply in love with Cú Chulainn, the legendary member of the Red Branch knights of Ulster. Unfortunately for her, Cú Chulainn did not return her love. Unfortunately for him, Mal wouldn’t let it go and began chasing him all over the island of Ireland. He eventually ended up here at the Cliffs of Moher. He leapt from the cliffs onto an island known as Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Rock. Thanks to a gust of wind, Mal was able to follow. Cú Chulainn jumped back but this time Mal wasn’t so lucky – without the wind’s assistance, she crashed into the rocks. Such was the impact of the dent that the shape of her profile remains visible at Hag’s head today!
Moher Tower is the ruin of an old Napoleonic-era watchtower standing on Hag’s Head.
Of course, you’re highly unlikely to have the place to yourself! There’s the bird population for starters! This is the breeding site for some 30,000 seabirds and is home to Puffin, Peregrine Falcon, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Chough, Guillemot and Razorbill. There is a large population of hares in the area as well as feral goats. In the waters below you might spot a dolphin, whale or seal. Then there are the visitors – over one million per year. It’s a busy place on a bright summer’s day!
Long, long ago, Ireland was ruled by a magical tribe called the Tuatha Dé Danann. The arrival of St. Patrick and Christianity brought an end to the Celtic practices of magic and ritual. Enraged by their loss of power, the Tuatha Dé Danann turned themselves into horses and hid away in the Kilcornan Caves for centuries. After hundreds of years, seven foals ventured from the caves, eager to explore. Of course, after all the years of darkness, they were blinded by the natural sunlight. Unable to see where they were going, they galloped over the edge of the cliffs and died in the waters below. That same spot is known as Aill na Searrach or The Cliff of the Foals.
O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 by local landowner Cornelius O’Brien. He believed that tourism could save the local economy and bring income to the local people. It became a popular viewing area for visitors in the 19th century, and stands at the highest point of the cliffs.
An ancient city sank underwater here when a local chieftain lost the golden key to the city gates. Legend has it that the town will remain underwater until the key is found and returned. Visitors look for the city shining below the surface. However!!!! The city rises briefly every seven years but if you witness this occurrence, you will be dead before it rises again seven years later! You have been warned!
Bits and Bobs…..
***The Cliffs date back 320 million years and are comprised of shale, siltstone, and sandstone.
***They measure some 214m (702 ft) at their highest point near O’Brien’s tower.
***Pronunciation = mow-her (as in mowing the lawn).
***The trail is relative flat and even with a slight and gradual climb towards the steepest section. It should be avoided in poor weather and obviously one should stay away from the edge!!! Visitors are asked to respect local landowners by parking only in designated areas and staying on the official trail.
***The Visitor Experience Centre has interactive media displays, images and features that offer insight into local geology, history, flora and fauna.
***Access and Admission:
Admission ticket includes parking / Visitors’ Centre / facilities/audio guide / etc.
It’s best to pre book online – Peak Times (11.00am – 4.00pm) €10 per person / Off Peak €7 per person. (Family Ticket €14/€20)
The Cliffs are technically free and there is free access to the trails.
If you are not interested in the Visitor Centre etc, there are some enterprising locals who offer parking at a reduced cost close to the cliffs. If you are staying locally then just ask about it at your accommodation.
***The Cliffs of Moher at the Movies…….
Horcrux Caves in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride
Into the West
The Mackintosh Man
Far and Away
Snow White and the Huntsman
….and in Music Video……
Maroon 5 – Runaway
Westlife – My Love