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Don't go to Cliffs of Moher

Updated on January 27, 2014

Cliffs of Moher - a no-go destination?

I did some travelling over the weekend. One of the places on my itinerary was the famous Cliffs of Moher, probably the most famous touristic gathering point in the west of Ireland. At 214 m, they are the highest cliffs on the whole island and the view is... well... magnificent. BUT (and this is really a huge, huge but) one day someone decided it would be a good idea to pour a lot of concrete all over the place and to start charging an outrageous amount of money from people wishing to see the nearly-spoilt masterpiece of Mother Nature.

Photo source

Visiting Cliffs of Moher

So, let me quickly tell you what happens when you arrive on the spot.

After a picturesque drive along a winding road you are finally there. Not much of anything around - pastures, stone walls, and lovely double yellow line on both sides of the road for good few hundred meters. If you're not from Ireland you may not know - double yellow line means YOU CANNOT PARK THERE. Never ever, under no circumstances. What you can do instead - and what owners of the place really badly want you to do - is to drive to the car park. Spacious, within convenient distance... And charged for at 6.50 a person. Which, if you have a full car, means you're paying thirty quid on the spot. Now, let me tell you what thirty quid can buy you these days. Enough petrol to go from Galway to Dublin and back (well, unless you have a monster of a car with huge engine). About fifteen frozen pizzas. A plane ticket to UK and back if you book in advance. Broadband for a month - and there will still be some left for your mobile credit. I could go on.

But what you're actually paying for? In theory, the offer sounds pretty generous. You get the parking. You're allowed to go and have a look at the cliffs. You can enter the museum. How lovely.

What are the tricky bits, then?

Tricky bits

If you happen not to be in the mood for education - woe is you. You can not pass on the museum ticket - at least on paying for it.

What if your idea of a museum consists of something more than a few enlarged pictures with uninteresting subtitles? Bad luck, because basically this is what you're getting.

What if you've seen the cliffs a hundred times and want to have a quiet smoke in the car while your Auntie is oohing and aaaahing over the views? It's still going to cost you 6.50.

Don't know how about you, but I like to choose what I'm paying for. I hate being forced to splash out for the whole package if I'm only interested in a tiny bit. I feel it's a cheap trick trying to squeeze money out of customers and I hate being cheaply tricked. Anyone with me?

And you know what is the best part?

Best part

Not so long ago, there was no concrete over the Cliffs. There was no museum, no restaurant, no 'Do not go there' signs, just pure, stunning, magnificent nature. Just a few warnings - well, you have to be careful if you don't want to be blown off. Then the enterpreneurs arrived and ruined the place, killed the atmosphere. The whole complex stinks of commercialism, of making money, of milking the tourists. Officially, the stone walls are there to stop suiciders from jumping off. If I wanted to kill myself in this showy way, no waist-high wall would stop me, that's for sure.

Those people killed one of the prettiest places in Ireland. For that, I'm supposed to pay them substantial money and feel grateful. Goddamnit!

So, what can you do?

The Cliffs are worth seeing and no greedy bastards should stop you from going there. Well, you will have to shut your eyes for all the concrete and pretend it's simply not there, but fortunately nothing happened to the actual cliff face and to the ocean. The waves still break furiously far, far below you. Plus, there are ways to get around the rules.

You can not park at the very site, but drive few hundred meters on and you'll find good few driveways with locked gates and lonely pastures behind them. Leaving your car there is not completely riskless, but those spots look so unused that there is no real gamble. Then it's only a bit further to walk and you can enjoy the views completely free, whether there's two or ten of you.

If you don't feel adventurous and don't want to leave your vehicle in a not-exactly-legal place, just remember - if you drive along the coast road, what you'll see will be mostly... cliffs, cliffs and some more cliffs. You can stop anywhere, take pictures, enjoy the views. These cliffs may be a few meters lower than The Magnificent Mohers, but it does not take anything away from their beauty. It does take swarms of tourists away, though, and I definitely can live with that. I bet that you can, too.

If you absolutely have to go to the Cliffs of Moher...

...go on Christmas Day.

No, I'm not kidding.

I've visited Cliffs of Moher on Christmas Day 2011 and it was a wonderful experience (well, as wonderful as it could possibly be, all things considered).

There were very few visitors around - certainly no tourist-laden coaches.

Car park was empty, and so were money-collector booths, but surprisingly, the barrier at the entrance was up. I presume the management decided to make a Christmas present of free parking to the few eccentrics willing to swop TV and overeating for some sightseeing.

To top it all, local and intercity roads were blissfully free of traffic.

Only the weather left much to be desired, but in Ireland this can happen in any season.

What do you think about Cliffs of Moher 'development'?

What is your favourite way of experiencing nature? Do you prefer broad walkways and a restaurant or some wilderness and a muddy path? What did you like better: the Cliffs before or after the 'developments'? In short...

What they did to the Cliffs of Moher is...

See results

Fight for it!

Since I'm getting a lot of feedback with contrasting opinions, why not turn it into a debate? Go on, say it, are you pro or contra? (And thank you, Pat, for giving me the idea)

Do you like Cliffs of Moher these days?

Oh, where are the Cliffs of yesteryear? I loved them rough and free!

Oh, where are the Cliffs of yesteryear? I loved them rough and free!

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I totally agree. It's a scandalous exploitation of a natural feature which should be freely available to everyone, and a desperate attempt to squeeze every last euro out of the tourists. The Northerners (i.e. the National Trust) have done exactly the same at the Giant's Causeway, except that there it will cost you £8,50(!) per person and they give you an audio guided tour which undoubtedly tells you all about Finn MacCool (I declined the offer). If you want to see the Giant's Causeway for free, just go late in the afternoon: as soon as it starts getting dark the visitors' centre closes and the car park attendants go home, leaving the barriers open :-).

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      We were there in 2010 and plan on returning this fall,since I'm American and a tourist I don't fill I have a dog in this fight ,but since I am Named Branan like the Branan Not in front of the cliffs maybe I do,btw the did a similar stunt in front of Mount Rushmore here in the USA which I don't like so I guess I can relate

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      My friends and i sort of snuk in without paying. I WILL NOT PAY MONEY TO SEE NATURE. SCREW THOSE GREEDY BASTARDS!!!!!!!!

    • shane85 lm 4 years ago

      I couldn't agree more. The cliffs are very nice and all but it's a complete rip off! It paints a very poor image of Ireland when we are trying to extort huge amounts of money from tourists who just want to take in the local scenery.

      Not that it matters but some of the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe are in Slieve League in County Donegal. They are almost 600metres tall and are free to visit. A hidden gem which has not been exploited

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I think it is utter rubbish. Nature is my main attraction. I adore it and it is my number one priority to see the great natural pieces. I am fine with a little civilization slipping in so people can have somewhere to stay and safety but one of the best things about ireland is its beautiful and often untouched scenery. To lessen away even more now is a crime

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      A complete hoax! Forcing tourists to pay through the nose to see a natural phenomenon is disgusting. A moderate carpark charge, why not? But the rest is a disgrace. If you've no money you can't even get a free look at nature! I brought some French friends there recently and ended up feeling ashamed to be Irish.

    • Michael Shepherd 5 years ago from Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland

      Hi, I found this lens because I am in the process of writing up the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren for my Ireland web site.

      Yes, I visited the cliffs back in '96 when they were wild and free and was bitterly disappointed when I came back in 2010 to find what you found.

      But this year I took visiting relatives and we all really enjoyed the visitor centre and learned from it.


    • katie-den-33 5 years ago

      People who are suicidal do not do it in a "showy way". When you are dead, are you going to live on to see the reactions to your "showy" departure. These people are in a dark, black place. I hope you never know what depression and desperation are. Most of the suspected suicide victims are from outside Clare and take their lives at night when there is no one else around. Excuse the concrete but the point of it is to try to save lives.

    • dannystaple 5 years ago

      One good thing about Porttowan was how rugged the cliffs and Dunes were. Sure - there was a couple of places to eat and drink not far off (I like having somewhere to dash to when the weather turns nasty), but nothing on the actual cliffs and sand itself. Nice. And nobody charging me to see it. Not seen the Cliffs of Moher, but I am likely to go to the ones down the road instead after reading this.

    • Susanna Duffy 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Oh my, the thought of overpriced commercialism has depressed me

    • MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

      People do not accuse the business men...they are doing their best to make some money and it is totally fine......instead accuse YOUR GOVERNMENT for giving them permission to build there. Someone gave them permission to build this monstrosity....if not gather as much people as you can find get a caterpillar and demolish this place at once

    • Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I don't like people messing with natural beauty, spoiling it and then charging you for the privilege or enjoying it. They have done something similar with Lands End in Cornwall as well, putting in a Doctor Who exhibition amongst other things.

    You kidding? Finally some civilization! I love the way things are now

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      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Nothing wrong, there is a place to park, a place to use the toilet and get some food. Safety barriers to prevent stupidity. It is well maintained worth the 6 Euros it cost

      You totally agree? Never seen worse rant in your life? Or you just want to say 'hi'? Don't hesitate, type away!

      Your opinion on Cliffs of Moher matters

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        • sheehana profile image

          sheehana 4 years ago

          I think this lens is over the top. The design of the Visitor Centre is abuilding which attempts to blend back into the landscape with a grass roof etc. There is a lovely audiovisual display of the cliffs included in the admission price. More often than not its windy and cold and dare I say sometimes raining so its great to go for a coffee or glass of wine or whatever to the nice warm visitor centre. There are also cllean and attended toilets. I remember going into a car park by the lake in Chiacago once by mistake and having to pay to get out! There is nothing for free these days. It is not a reason not to visit this fab place.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          believe me, us locals don't like it either! i work in Doolin and many tourists come in looking for information re. the cliffs and the burren, the Doolin Stalactite and other attractions in north clare, including father ted's house.. and of course i give them the directions but tell them to stop outside the car park and empty their cars! that way only the driver has to pay.. nobody else is in the car so they can't charge you! (6.50 is still steep!) as for stripping the place of it's character? we all think it's terrible.. in fact we call the new building the tellytubby house! an alternative to visiting the cliffs is going for the cruise. If you go from Doolin Pier, you get to experience the new and fantastic views from sea-level.. trust me, as a local it's way better and as far as i know kids go free.. it can even be incorporated into the return from the aran islands if you are visiting there.. however, regardless of the tellietubby house, the concrete and the car park, i feel the warning signs are a must. those waves are scary and mask dangerous hidden currents.. when a person jumps or falls from those cliffs a whole team of the coast guard members put their lives at risk to try locate and obtain the remains.

        • sherridan profile image

          sherridan 5 years ago

          I have never been, but that does all sound steep. I heard a story of someone charging at a hospital carpark for 20 yrs and then one day not turning up. The hospital phoned the council to say that no one was on duty and the council said, 'We thought it was the hospital was charging!' Someone is having a comfortable retirement!

        • Country-Sunshine profile image

          Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

          Ah, the price of progress. It stinks, doesn't it? I don't know how these things happen, but it is ruining so much of our natural beauty. The same thing happened to a place I used to visit in New Mexico. I can't bear to go there anymore, as it is now just a commercial hotspot.

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          dannystaple 5 years ago

          Hold on - charged per person, per car? Ouch - surely it should be per car. Money grabbing g*ts. I definitely support your rant here. I am sure there was a time before somebody put a fence and a pay booth around Stonehenge too. They should be finding some other way to make money instead.

        • terracroatia profile image

          terracroatia 5 years ago

          Unacceptable and disgusting. Civilians should be encouraged to take steps against this but I'm afraid many locals are glad to get some extra income. You've made the first step by drawing attention to this case.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          (sigh...) another one bites the concrete...

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot....

        • franstan lm profile image

          franstan lm 5 years ago

          I always wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher. Now I'm not so sure

        • SusannaDuffy profile image

          Susanna Duffy 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

          It's such a shame, the joy of the beautiful Cliffs of Moher ruined. The Cliffs are still stunning but the grasping greed certainly takes more of my breath away than one of the Seven Wonders of Nature

        • Psycho-Gamer profile image

          MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

          This is really a crime and i ve seen things like that all over the place....that's where i live..........they charge you for something that is totally free and most of the people do not understand why it is wrong giving them their money....and when i try to explain them the reasons they call you a cheap bastard and then you have to smash some teeth.....

          Get more people and organize a move to shut this place is most unlikely to happen but it will hurt their profits for sure.....

          Like the rest of the visitors have said add some pictures.....Ireland is my no1 destination when i will start traveling and one of the things i have in my mind about Ireland is its nature......Get some more pictures of that nature......get some pictures of the relevant to your subject....

        • TonyPayne profile image

          Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

          I agree with what Serenia said as well. It's really sad that people have to make money out of natural beauty like this. Thanks for pointing it out, I hope it deters people from visiting the cliffs.

        • Tiggered profile image

          Tiggered 6 years ago

          @TeacherSerenia: Thanks for the advice.

          Working on it. Slowly but surely :)

        • TeacherSerenia profile image

          TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

          This would be a great lens (worthy of a blessing) if you could just fix up the problems I am going to mention.

          I would like to see more photos - photos of the yellow lines on the road, photos of the concrete walls and some nice photos of the views from along the cliffs.

          Also your debate module desperately needs to be edited. You have not added your options. You have two options to choose - you need to type in YES in one option box and NO in the other option box so that readers can choose. Right now there is no choice.

          I am commenting here because you don't have any contact button. Please allow contact.

          And lastly your lens would be greatly improved if you added a few lines to your bio page and also added a picture of you or an avatar picture instead of the standard squidoo doodle.

          If you do these things, this lens might receive some squidlikes and be favourited. The subject matter is definitely very interesting. Thank you

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I have just read your review, I would love to see some photos of the concrete poured all over the place, and for reference I went there with 2 adults and three kids and it cost me 12 euro, I suppose that's 6 per adult(50cent extra!!!!),

          I also saw cars parked in various field gates, but as a farmer myself I cannot agree with this practice as it drives me carzy when i find cars blocking entrances to my land.

          Overall I found it to be good value for money, we spent three hours there, the weather was good, we had our own picnic with us and 3hours for 12 euro nowadays, especially when it tires out the kids is GREAT VALUE.

          basically sorry but I cannot agree with your review.