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Cliffs of Moher
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are an absolute highlight of Ireland's stunning west coast. The Cliffs take their name from an old fort called “Mothar” that once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs.
The impressive cliffs, consisting primarily of Namurian sandstone, shale and silt-stone, sit on Europe's most westerly tip. They stretch for 8 kilometers along the Atlantic coast, between Doolin and Liscannon, on the Wild Atlantic Way and rise to a height of 214 meters at their highest point at Knockardakin, just north of O’Brien’s Tower. On a clear day you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, and the mountains of Connemara to the north, as well as the Loop Head and the Kerry mountains to the south.
The Cliffs of Moher are a Special Protected Area under Irish & EU legislation. The area is of special importance due to the presence of bird species such as Chough, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Guillemot Razorbill, and Puffin. Marine wildlife such as gray seal, dolphins, basking sharks, and occasionally, sea otters and both minke and humpback whales can be also spotted.
Being the most-visited natural site in Ireland, you are bound to find visitors all year-round, however July and August are the busiest months. Weekends are generally busier than weekdays. If you want to escape the crowds, go late in the afternoon or early in the morning. In bad weather, access to the cliffs is limited, as the wind can blow very hard. Accommodations are plentiful in both towns; Doolin and Liscannor as well as in other towns and villages in County Clare.
What to See
Visitor's CentreThe eco-friendly underground Visitor Center is a great place to stop and visit before heading out to the cliffs so you can learn about the cliffs and even have a simulated, multi-screen, virtual reality experience of standing on the cliffs on a sunny day. It features various interactive exhibits, images and displays, a pleasant café, restaurant, and a few gift shops.
It also houses the Atlantic Edge Exhibition, an interactive display of the geology and history of the cliffs, and surrounding area. The main dome is themed into four main areas – Ocean, Rock, Nature, and Man – exploring each of these themes in turn and, through interactive displays, allowing visitors to delve into the information to the extent of their interest.
Cliffs of MoherThe cliffs have three viewing platforms and you can determine how far you wish to walk as there are a few footpaths that follow the coast. Starting from the visitors’ center, the path to the Cliffs of Moher curve upwards towards the cliff-top. At the top of the steps the path splits off in two directions. On the right, a paved walkway leads up to the North platform where O’Brien’s Tower is located, which marks the highest point of the cliffs. But the real excitement begins after heading back to the starting point and walking along the left branch of the main pathway to the South Platform and Hag's Head.
Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walking TrailThe Cliffs of Moher Coastal footpath, linking Doolin in the north and Liscannor in the south, along the Cliffs offers incredible views and should not to be missed. The walk is fairly flat with only a slight and gradual rise to the higher cliffs. However, be very careful as there are no safety barriers and sections of the cliff sometimes give way. Sensible walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended if you want to venture along the trail. From Doolin, the more popular 7-kilometers walk to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center takes about two-and-a-half to three hours, while the 12-kilometers walk to Liscannor via Hag’s Head takes three-and-a-half hours. Adventurous amblers can walk the entire trail from Doolin to Liscannor in about 5 hours. There’s plenty of wildlife to spot along the way and watching puffins coming in and out of the cliff face is simply fantastic.
O’Brien’s TowerO’Brien’s Tower is perched on a promontory close to the highest point of the cliffs. The Gothic tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien a descendant of Brian Boru , Kings of Thomond, as an observation point for the tourists who ventured out to the cliffs. Today the tower still stands proudly as a beacon and serves as the perfect vantage point from which to witness the majestic cliffs and surrounding scenery below.
Hag's HeadBe sure not to miss the Hag's Head when visiting the Cliffs of Moher, especially if you're looking to get away from the crowds. The Hag's Head, forming the southern end of the cliffs, is an unusual rock formation resembling a woman's head looking out to sea. There is also a watchtower, erected around 1806 to guard against a possible French invasion of Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. You can walk to it from the Visitor Center at the cliffs or you can access it by parking about a kilometer downhill and hiking up through farmland to get to the top.
VisitingThe Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is open daily from 9.00 a.m. Closing time vary according to the time of year. Admission to the Cliffs is €6 ($6.90) for adults, €4 ($4.60) for students and seniors and free for children under 16 years. Entry to O’Brien’s Tower is €2 ($2.30) for adults and €1 ($1.15) for children. The Cliffs of Moher Audio Guide App can be downloaded free of charge for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices. Free Wi-Fi has been installed throughout the site at the main viewing areas and in the concourse outside the Visitor Center. Ferry trips which depart at nearby Doolin Pier, will allow you to view the cliffs from sea level.
Getting ThereThe Cliffs of Moher are easily accessed by road from Galway (1.5 hours), Ennis (40 minutes), Limerick (1.5 hours), and from the ferry to and from Killimer in Kerry. Dublin, on the east coast, is about 3.5 hours away. Daily bus tours operate from Dublin, Galway, Shannon, and Limerick.
- Don't go too near to the edge as erosion is constantly taking place and don't underestimate the power of the wind there.
- Dress warmly when visiting, because of the cool Atlantic winds blowing in off the ocean.
- If you visit the Cliffs after the visitor center closes, it's much more peaceful and free.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: May 26, 2015