Cliffs of Moher, IrelandApril 14, 2018
Basic information about Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in Couty Clare, Ireland.They run for about 14 kilometres. At their southern end, they rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and, eight kilometres to the north, reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs, built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien, then continue at lower heights. The closest settlements are Liscannor (6 km south) and Doolin (7 km north).
From the cliffs, and from atop the tower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south.The cliffs rank amongst the most visited tourist sites in Ireland, with around 1.5 million visits per annum.
The cliffs take their name from an old promontory fort called Mothar or Moher, which once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffed coast, now the site of Moher Tower. The writer Thomas Johnson Westropp referred to it in 1905 as Moher Uí Ruis or Moher Uí Ruidhin. The fort still stood in 1780 and is mentioned in an account from John Lloyd’s A Short Tour Of Clare (1780). It was demolished in 1808 to provide material for a lookout/telegraph tower that was intended to provide warning in case of a French invasion during the Napoleonic wars.
The cliffs are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland and topped a list of attractions in 2006 by drawing almost one million visitors (at the official visitor centre, with additional visitors accessing other locales); the total visit number is now around 1.5 million per annum. Since 2011, they have formed a part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, one of a family of geotourism destinations throughout Europe that are members of the European Geoparks Network and also recognized by UNESCO. The cliffs are also a “signature point” on the official Wild Atlantic Way tourist trail.
While the cliffs can be accessed at multiple points, and there is an 18 kilometer Cliff Walk, the majority of visitors come to the official visitor centre.
The official Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk runs for 18 km, from Hag’s Head to Doolin, passing the Visitor Centre and O’Brien’s Tower, with good viewing throughout, subject to rain or sea fog.
There are two paths near the visitor centre, the official one being set back a little for safety, while an unofficial path runs closer to the edge. In July 2016 the so-called Cliff Walk, outside the official Cliffs of Moher amenities, was temporarily closed because of the risk of rock falls. People were warned to stay on the official path further of the cliff edge instead of the unofficial seaside trail.
Separate ferry trips also allow tourists to view the cliffs from sea level, and at certain times fixed-wing aircraft from Connemara Airport also provide a viewing opportunity.
The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs. It is possible to see 300-million-year-old river channels cutting through, forming unconformities at the base of the cliffs.
At peak season, there are an estimated 30,000 pairs of birds living on the cliffs, representing more than 20 species.These include Atlantic puffins, which live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs and on the small Goat Island,and razorbills. The site is an Important Bird Area.
A wide range of sea life can also be seen, from grey seals through porpoises, dolphins, minke whales and basking sharks, as well as, occasionally, sunfish. On land, feral goats, foxes, badgers and the Irish hare are found, along with various breeds of farm cattle.
The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous media. In cinema, the cliffs have appeared in several films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for “The Cliffs of Insanity”), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Leap Year (2010). The cliffs are mentioned in the Martin Scorsese film Bringing Out the Dead (1999) and are noted in the 2008 documentary Waveriders as the location of a large surfing wave known as “Aileens”.