The Cliffs of Moher (correct me if I’m wrong, pronounced in English: cliffs of “more”) are located in the south-west of Ireland near the very pretty city of Doolin, in County Clare, Ireland. Ireland is divided into counties rather than provinces as in Canada or States as in the US.
Renting a car and driving on the “wrong” side of the road (left) and sitting in the driver’s seat on the “wrong” side of the car (right) was an adventure in itself. You have to shift the car using your left hand, which in the end isn’t too difficult because the gears are still in the same place. Taking the highway from Dublin to Limerick and then north towards Doolin, was no problem. When you start to approach the Cliffs, that’s when the roads start to narrow down to two lanes, with no barrier and so you really do feel like screaming when the car is coming at you from the right side.
The cliffs stand 120 meters (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head and the highest point is 214 meters (702 ft) and that is just north of O’Brien’s Tower. While walking along the edge of the cliffs you felt the sheer power of the ocean, wind and rock. It truly does take your breath away and I found myself standing there in the moment, feeling the nature surround me.
It’s easy to see why the Cliffs of Moher attract close to one million visitors per year. What I don’t understand are the daredevils who are willing to scale the slippery cliff edges caked with wet mud, in addition to being blown by the strong gusts of wind, to venture to the end at Hag’s Head (8kms away). I walked a little ways after the first cliff and I saw some people slipping in the mud and their feet were centimeters from the edge. At 390 feet, I’m not sure the survival rate for accidents is very promising.
Actually I did some research online after visiting the cliffs to see if there had been any accidents on the cliffs. It was so dangerous and there were no marshals or staff trying to keep the people from walking past the rock walls probably erected to keep people away in the first place. There were only a few (older) blogs and forums that reported any accidents. It might be something that they try to keep quiet as the situations were probably quite tragic. I can say that I got numerous beautiful pictures without needing to risk my life.
The O’Brien’s Tower sits at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien, a descendant of Ireland’s High King Brian Boru. I didn’t climb to the top of the tower because when I was there I didn’t know that from the top, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Maum Turk Mountains and the Twelve Pins to the north in Connemara, and Loop Head to the south! I was disappointed when I found out after the fact because it happened to be a clear day and I’m sure I could have seen these sights.
Traveler’s tip: Climb O’Brien’s Tower if it’s not a foggy day! You don’t want to miss those sights. Plus, you can’t really see the other half of the cliffs from the ground and the Tower is said to be the midpoint. Its also useful to wear runners if not a solid pair of hiking shoes, a wind-breaker jacket and for the ladies wear your hair back or at least bring reinforcements.
Not to worry though, I did see my fair share of the beauteous nature of Ireland while walking along the cliffs (a safe distance from the edge). There was an older Irish man playing the flute and his tune was carried by the wind over the cliffs. The music added an ambiance to the experience as I stood taking in the greatness of the area, feeling the wind and fear of Mother Nature being thrust upon me as I stood overlooking the cliffs that stood strong against the crashing waves of the ocean. I loved the pastel green color of the wind-blown grass and seeing the spray of the water jump upwards on the cliffs.
There are many animals living on the cliffs most of which are birds and there are an estimated 30,000 birds, representing more than 20 species. These include the incredibly cute Atlantic Puffins, which live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs and on the small Goat Island. Unfortunately the Puffins weren’t out when I was there, but I did see this little fella.
The Atlantic Edge interpretive centre at the Cliffs of Moher has more information for visitors on the cliffs, the animals and the other things to be discovered in surrounding area like caves.
Another fun fact is that a lot of movies and music videos have been shot at the Cliffs of Moher including the final scene in the movies The Princess Bride, Leap Year, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
This is one of those places that you have to see with your own eyes to believe the massiveness of the cliffs. The pictures don’t do them justice and so I leave you with this video, which gives you a better idea, but still cannot substitute the real experience.
See the Cliffs of Moher well-captured in this video:
And if you want to see a proper tour of the journey towards Hag’s Head, you watch Robin Wallace’s video here. (He makes it look easy. Maybe because he did it during a colder time of year when the mud was hardened and the gusts of wind were at a minimum. Still he walks very close to the cliffs edge).
What place have you visited that made you feel insignificant in this world? Would you be brave enough to walk along the edges of the Cliffs of Moher?