The Cliffs of Moher.  One of the most recognizable natural wonders on the west coast of Ireland.  Even the name is magical.  The Cliffs of Moher.

Looking south towards Hag's Head

Looking south towards Hag’s Head

The name comes from the Irish word mothar, meaning a ruined fort.  In the 1st century BC, a fort stood near the site where O’Brien’s Tower is today.  The name of the cliffs commemorates that 2000 year old, long gone structure.


Looking south – O’Brien’s Castle – Aran Islands in the distance

The dark, limestone walls of the cliffs soar straight up out of the Atlantic Ocean to a maximum height of just over 700’.  They extend for nearly five miles – from near the village of Doolin in the north to Hag’s Head in the south.  A well-established footpath winds along the edge of the cliffs – far enough away to be safe, yet close enough to ensure that visitors enjoy breath-taking views.

O'Brien's Castle

O’Brien’s Castle

On a clear day from Knockardaken, the highest point near O’Brien’s castle, one can see from Loop Head and the Blasket Islands in Co. Kerry to the Aran Islands and on north to Galway Bay and the Twelve Bens of the Connemara Mountains.  Nature enthusiasts come to view the more than 20 species of birds, from Puffins to Peregrine Falcons that nest in the cliffs and fish of their waters.  Sharks, whales, seals and dolphins are frequent visitors to the waters at the cliffs.

One of the most fascinating things about the Cliffs is how they are constantly changing.  I have been visiting them for more than thirty years and every time I go I notice the changes that Nature has wrought on the landscape.

Entrance bollard

Entrance bollard

A calm summer’s day affords visitors spectacular views and a tranquil environment with hardly a thought of the force and fury of the wind and sea that combine to create this spectacular natural phenomenon.  Atlantic storms typically head west towards the Americas, but occasionally they turn north and can pummel the west coast of Ireland with wind of up to 100kmph and waves of more than 30 feet.  As a result, only seaweed and lichen survive on the lower portions of the cliffs.  Closer to the top, however, fallen bits of soil have created a perfect environment for a variety of plant life and wild flowers.

Some of the more domesticated residents of the area

Some of the more domesticated residents of the area

No visit to Ireland is complete without a stop at this spectacular natural wonder.  The cliffs are open daily at 9 am with varying closing times – as late as 9 pm during the peak summer months.  Fees are 6€ per person, 4 € for seniors over 65 and children under 16 years are free. Group rates are available.   May your visit to the Cliffs of Moher be blessed with clear skies and gorgeous sunshine.