What a View!
These Cliffs are utterly amazing. They stand 702ft tall and are located on the Atlantic Coast of Ireland. According to the Visitor Center, the Cliffs are one of the most visited spots in Ireland receiving up to 1 million visitors a year. Ok, so some history, I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned at the Visitor’s Center. The Cliffs are named after an old promontory fort called Mothar or Moher, which once stood on the Hag’s Head – the southernmost point of the cliffs, now the site of Moher Tower. The closest towns to the Cliffs are Liscannor (6 km to the South) and Doolin (7 km to the North). My group went to Doolin where we enjoyed a mean chowder at a fantastic little pub called O’Connor’s. At the main parking lot of the Cliffs, there are some cute little shops you can visit, although they sell the same things as the Visitor Center’s gift shop at mostly the same prices. I did find a neat t-shirt and a cute little sheep keychain however!
The Cliff Walk – A Dangerous Gamble
But back to the cliffs. You can hike the cliffs up and down, from one town to the other if you wish on the Cliff Walk. We only had an hour and a half so we enjoyed the beautiful views mostly. Now, there is something else you should know about the Cliffs of Moher. They are actually pretty dangerous. When the winds are high, people have been known to be blown off the edge! I am not kidding! There have been 33 death this year already (I’m writing this in November of 2016)! The Cliff Walk is one of the most dangerous paths you can hike in Ireland. People have been known to be blown off it as well as having the edge giving way under their weight. The Cliffs are only made out of Namurian Shale and Sandstone, so they are by no means as solid as they look. And let me tell you, that drop is not something to take lightly!
O’Brian Was his Name
There are two towers that sit atop the mighty Cliffs. You can walk to either, however the walk to the Napoleonic Tower takes more time. The other tower is O’Brian’s, which is the more famous of the two. O’Brian’s Tower marks the highest point of the Cliffs, although the views from here are not as grand as the views on top of the Cliffs to the left. It was built in 1835 by Sir Cornellius O’Brien as an observation tower for the Victorian Tourists that frequented the Cliffs at the time (yes the Cliffs of Moher have been a tourist site for THAT long!). According to the locals, the tower was O’Brian’s place to bring his lady friends. The story goes, he built the tower to impress these women he was courting. And admittedly, on a clear day, the view can be absolutely breathtaking. You can see the Aran Islands to the West, Galway Bay to the North, and the mountains of Kerry to the South. Also, he was responsible for building the large stone wall that marks the Cliff’s boundary. Even he realized that the Cliffs can be a dangerous place. For an extra price, you can climb to the top of the tower and take in the views as well as see the inside of this rather unique lover’s nest.
The Crumbling Moher Tower
The Napoleonic Tower, or Moher Tower, is opposite of O’Brian’s Tower and a much longer walk away. It stands on the Hag’s Head point, but it is probably the best viewing point of the Cliffs. The tower itself is closed to the public as it is located on the extreme edge of the Cliffs and is no longer sound. We didn’t get there unfortunately, but it we did walk a little bit of the walk. The view was stunning and the towers was beautiful to look at from afar. The walk to get to this tower is 12 kilometers and will take about 3 hours round trip from the Visitor’s Center. But the vistas along this walk are gorgeous. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend checking it out.
Do You Recognize The Cliffs?
There is something else that anyone who visits the Cliffs should be aware of. They might look familiar. Why you ask? Well, they’ve been in several movies over the years. The first that springs to mind is The Princess Bride. The Cliffs of Moher = the Cliffs of Insanity! You know the scene, where Wesley climbs up the cliffs in pursuit of Buttercup’s kidnappers and he fights with the Spaniard at the summit. Cue your favorite inconceivable Princess Bride quote.
Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam.
Okay and that’s not all. The Cliffs also have a prominent role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie. You remember that scene where Dumbledore and Harry go to the seaside cave to find the locket horcrux? Yes? Well, that’s at the Cliffs of Moher. You can’t see it if you walk the path to the Napoleonic Tower, but you can if you walk towards O’Brian’s Tower. And being the Potterhead that I am, I of course freaked out upon hearing that I would actually get to see something of my beloved series of books from my childhood. And I’m sure the rest of you Potterheads are now also looking this up online. But let me tell you, it is amazing to see it in person. Natural beauty, natural wonder, one cannot simply describe the feeling of being able to imagine for just a second that the land you dreamt about, read about, hell even wrote about is really real. You could actually enter it and walk around, the same place that Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore visited. Of course you can’t really get down there, but one can imagine!
So yes, I’m a Harry Potter Fan, but come on, who my age isn’t???? It was a brilliant day to visit the Cliffs of Moher. They were fabulous and the views were amazing. It wasn’t windy (thank God!) and there was no rain (surprise, surprise!) but a little hazy. So unfortunately we weren’t able to see some of the things that you can on a clear day (the three islands, the bay, etc.) but it was still fantastic. I would go again in a heartbeat. You can hike for hours there and it would be an amazing picnic spot. You can take many different tour companies to get there, like Paddywagon or Dublin Tour Company. We took Dublin Tour Company and our bus driver/guide Angie was amazing! She had us laughing and learning quite a bit about the Irish Countryside and lore on our way to the Cliffs.
All in all, the Cliffs were amazing. I highly recommend that you take the trip to the Cliffs of Moher when you visit the Emerald Isle. Enjoy the spectacular beauty, see if you can spot the puffins, check out the towers, and don’t forget to quote your favorite movie at least once!