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The Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

I love traveling. In Europe, I enjoy historic cities and nature walks. I've visited Scotland, Ireland, and France, among other countries.

You stand on a narrow, window path overlooking a sheer drop into the ocean. Ocean spray rises up from 400 feet below. Stretching out in front of you are two arms of sheer, rocky cliffs. It’s a dramatic view full of crashing waves, Irish mist, and, dominating the scenery, cliffs hundreds of feet high.

If this sounds appealing to you, you must visit the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. The cliffs are one of Ireland’s most popular tourist sites, and their dramatic beauty makes it easy to see why. You’ll rarely find a more impressive view.

Background on the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher stretch for about 5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean in County Clare, Ireland. The cliffs have been around for hundreds of millions of years, making them a part of Irish history.

The name “Moher” comes from “Mothar” in Gaelic, which means ruined fort. It refers to an old fort built in the first century BC on the southernmost point of the cliffs. This fort stood until the beginning of the 19th century, when it was demolished, but its name remained, making the Cliffs of Moher the “cliffs of the ruined fort.”

A new building, O’Brien’s Tower, was constructed in 1835 as a watchtower during the Napoleonic Wars. O’Brien’s Tower still stands today close to the middle of the cliffs, and visitors can climb to the top for fantastic views. In 2007 a new tourism center, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, was built close to the cliffs.

The Cliffs of Moher in Hollywood

If the Cliffs of Moher look familiar to you, it may be because you’ve seen them in a movie. In The Princess Bride, the Cliffs of Moher served as the Cliffs of Insanity, where Westley races Fezzik to climb to the top.

They were also an important location in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. If you remember Harry and Dumbledore visiting a cave to locate one of Voldemort’s horcruxes. In fact, if you visit the cliffs, you’ll be able to see the outside of the cave.

They have also been featured in Leap Year, Father Ted, and a number of music videos.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Since the completion of the new visitor center, there’s a lot to do at the Cliffs of Moher. The center charges €6 for entry to the visitor center, their exhibits, parking, and the pathways along the cliffs. If you’d like to climb to the top of O’Brien’s tower, it costs an additional €2.

The main thing you’ll want to do at the Cliffs of Moher is, of course, to view the cliffs. There is a walking path along much of the cliffs, enabling you to get different views. From the main platform, close to the visitor center, you’ll see the south cliffs. There is also a northern platform located at the highest point of the cliffs, a towering 700 feet above the sea.

The north platform lets you see An Branan Mor Sea Stack, a natural rock formation jutting out of the sea. Because the north platform is so high, it provides far-reaching views. This is where O’Brien’s tower is located. You can also head to the south platform to get great views of the puffin colony on Goat Island.

The coastal walk extends for kilometers past the platforms, so you can opt for a long, scenic walk if you’d like. At the Cliffs Exhibit, located underground, you’ll see displays and exhibits related to the cliffs. You may also opt to take a guided tour or even a cruise.

Getting to the Cliffs

The Cliffs of Moher are relatively easy to reach, located about 40 minutes from Ennis, 1.5 hours away from Galway, and 3.5 hours away from Dublin. You can drive and park yourself, or take one of the many bus tours offered by tourism companies around Ireland.

Bus tours from cities like Galway and Dublin typically include a collection of different stops, including places where you can find some traditional Irish pub food. They can be an easy way to take in Ireland’s beautiful scenery without having to drive yourself.

If you do visit this area make sure that you pack a rain coat. Especially on windy days, you’re likely to get a bit wet from all of the ocean spray. Trust me, though, it will be worth it.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


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