The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions, and when you go there you’ll know why! The Cliffs draw up to a million visitors each year from all over the globe, so if you do find yourself in the west of Ireland you’d do well to go and see the majestic cliffs for yourself.
The Cliffs of Moher are located in County Clare on the western seaboard overlooking the powerful Atlantic Ocean. Standing on the top of the Cliffs, 214 metres above the ocean watching the sunset, is bound to be the highlight of any sightseeing trip in Ireland.
About the Cliffs…
The most popular viewing point at the Cliffs of Moher is just north of O’Brien’s Tower where the cliffs peak to 214 metres. The cliffs then stretch for 8kms to the south and end at the Hags Head, which is 120 metres above the Atlantic.
These world famous cliffs are made of shale and sandstone, which has built up over many millions of years. In fact if you were to get close enough to the base of the cliffs, you can see the remains of 300 million year old prehistoric river channels!
There is a tower at either end of the cliffs; Moher Tower in the south at Hags Head and O’Brien’s Tower in the north where most of the tourist facilities are. Moher Tower is a ruined watchtower that may have been built by the British who feared invasion by Napoleon. O’Brien’s Tower was built at about the same time in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien who wished to facilitate the many tourists who were visiting the cliffs, even at this period in time. From the top of O’Brien’s Tower on a clear day it is possible to see as far as the Kerry mountains in the south and the Aran Islands out at sea.
The cliffs are very important for wildlife. They are practically vertical, which makes them an excellent sanctuary for birds and other small animals. There are an estimated 30,000 birds of almost 30 species that occupy the cliffs, including puffins, gulls, shags, ravens and hawks (which are the only predator that can stalk the cliffs). A 200 hectare area was officially made a protected area for birds in 1988 and the whole area includes the cliffs, several hundred metres inland and out to sea.
In more recent times the Cliffs of Moher New Visitor Experience was built into the nearby landscape, it cost €32 million, took 17 years to build and features some of the best renewable power sources available today including geothermal, solar and water recycling. The centre features a multimedia presentation that can give you a birds-eye view of the cliffs and gives you an in-depth tutorial on all the birds and fish of the area.
The cliffs form the western edge of an area of karst landscape known as the Burren. This area is unique in Ireland and in Europe and features an interesting selection of flora and fauna that you won’t see anywhere less. The 250 km² area also features a number of interesting archaeological sites including an ancient Dolmen.
The cliffs have been used in a few movies including the Princess Bride and in Ryan’s Daughter!
How to get to the Cliffs of Moher…
The Cliffs are located in the parish of Liscannor, County Clare, which is situated about half way between the cliffs and the well-known seaside town of Lahinch, which is itself renowned for its fabulous beach and links golf course.
Just a few kilometres north of the cliffs is the town of Doolin which is famous for being the hub of traditional Irish music in County Clare and indeed Ireland. It is also the most southerly port from which you can get a ferry out to the Aran Islands.
The Cliffs can be easily reached from the cities of Galway and Limerick. You can get a train from almost anywhere in the country as far as Ennis and from there you can get a bus. However the best way to travel in Clare, and indeed the rest of the country, is by car. (Hire a car with our sister site Novacarhire.com)
From Galway: You can take the N18 out of the city and then turn right onto the N67 in the village of Kilcolgan. Continue on this road as far as Lisdoonvarna but then turn right after the village on to the R478 which will continue on past Doolin and you should reach the cliffs about 3km before the village of Liscannor.
From Limerick or Shannon Airport: Head west towards Ennis along the N18. From Ennis you can take the N85 Ennistymon. From there you can head for Lahinch on the N67 and turn right onto the R478 for Liscannor. Continue out of Liscannor village on the R748 and you’ll come to the cliffs after about 6km. (From Limerick city journey time is about 1 hour 25 minutes and the cliffs are just a 1 hour drive from Shannon Airport, so if you’re touching down here, you really should take the opportunity to see the Cliffs.)
Cliffs of Moher – Know before you go…
Opening hours –
· While obviously the cliffs are always open, there are a number of other features such as O’Brien’s Tower and the Cliffs of Moher New Visitor Experience, which do have opening times.
· While the O’Brien’s Tower is normally open to the public, in 2007 the tower is undergoing restoration so is closed for the year.
· Cliffs of Moher New Visitor Experience has variable opening times throughout the year but as a general rule will open at 9 (Give or take half an hour depending on the season) and it closes 5pm in the winter and 8:30pm in the height of the summer. The Entrance fee costs about €4.00 per adult and €2.50 for a child. There is a student/OAP/group rate and children under 4 are free.
· There is a large car park near the road opposite the cliffs and it costs about €8 to park here.
· At the Cliffs of Moher you’ll also find a cosy café, a shop and a restaurant called the ‘Long Dock’, which boasts stunning views.
When’s a good time to go -
· The weather in the summer is most conducive for a sightseeing expedition but as the cliffs draw over a million tourists a year most of which visit during the summer months of July and August, it may get a little crowded at times. However the months of June and September can often have excellent weather and there tends to be fewer tourists about as well.
· As the cliffs face due west, we recommend visiting the cliffs at sunrise or sunset for a truly unforgettable experience!
So start planning you’re trip to Ireland’s wild west now! We’ve lots of accommodation in County Clare. If you want to be based close to the Cliffs of Moher then we suggest you book accommodation in Doolin, Lahinch or Liscannor.
If you want to rent a car to explore the Cliffs of Moher and the beautiful west of Ireland, then check out our sister site Novacarhire.com
We appreciate any stories, tips, questions or even some advice. Just pop your comment into the box below!