Battered by the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland is an island of dramatic cliffs and jagged promontories. A tour of the coastline reveals breathtaking rock formations of dizzying heights. Below you will find information on some of the best-known cliffs in Ireland.
Slieve League Detour
For the best way to experience the cliffs at Carrick, follow the Bunglas sign, where the road winds around the southern slopes of Slieve League, until you reach a farm gate. Leave your car and walk the 2-3 km to the cliffs to soak up the magic of this remarkable area. The massive panoramas look different with every step, as the distinctive Sligo mountains stretch across the horizon to Bricklieve. Donegal Bay sweeps majestically towards you, as you ascend to see the jagged tops of Slieve League piercing the horizon.
Slieve League Cliffs
The highest cliff face in Europe, Slieve League is spectacular not just for its sheer elevation but also for its colour; at sunset the rock is streaked with shifting tones of red, amber, and ochre.
The 8km drive to the eastern end of Slieve League from Carrick is bumpy but well worth it. Beyond Teelin, the road becomes a series of alarming switchbacks before reaching Bunglass Point and Amharc Mor, the ‘good view’.
From here you can see the whole of Slieve League, its sheer cliffs rising dramatically out of the ocean.
Only experienced hikers should attempt the treacherous ledges of One Man’s Pass. This is part of a trail which climbs westwards out of Teelin and up to the highest point of Slieve League – from where you can admire the Atlantic Ocean shimmering 598 m below. The path then continues on to Malinbeg, 16km west.
Cliffs Of Moher Visitor Experience
Not surprisingly, the Cliffs of Moher were Ireland’s nomination for the global online campaign to find the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. A designated UNESCO Geo Park, the Cliffs are 214m high at their peak and extend 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare.
The eco-friendly Cliffs Of Moher Visitor Centre is set into the hillside and provides an all weather experience. The restaurant offers panoramic views of the Cliffs of Moher and Liscannor bay from the remarkable feature windows.
Inishmore, Aran Islands, Galway
Dun Aengus is a fantastic example of a stone fort which is believed to be more than 2,000 years old. Perched on a cliff edge about 300 ft above the Atlantic Ocean, the fort is said to have been built by Aonghusa who was a chief of the Fir Bolg.
The impressive stone fort has three enclosures to defend against the enemy. If you look closely at one of the walls you will notice vertical, jagged rocks pertruding at an angle. This type of wall is called a chevaux-de-frise and is designed especially to trap the enemy.
With magnificent views of the island and the Connemara coastline, the fort is open yearround, and there is a small fee. (The fort is accessed by foot through some uneven terrain so it might not be suitable for the elderly, children or people with disabilities).
Mizen Head, the most southern tip of Ireland has steep cliffs which are often battered by storms.
There is a lighthouse here, reached via a suspension bridge across a rocky chasm. The lighthouse is not open to the public, but it is still worth the trip for the fine headland walk with views of vertiginous cliffs and Atlantic breakers.
The sandy beaches of nearby Barleycove attract both bathers and walkers.
The Beara Peninsula earns its reputation as the wildest, most romantic peninsula in the south west of Ireland. There are spectacular views of Bantry and Kenmare Bay, golden beaches, rugged cliffs, and moors with rare flora and birds. It is the perfect location for the visitor seeking tranquillity and solitude.
The Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is a World Heritage Site, famous for the beauty and extent of its extraordinary geological features. Spectacular cliffs and headlands faced with basalt columns of different heights shelter several bays, while pavements of “Causeway Stone” march out in regular shapes from the foot of the cliffs towards the sea. Within the nature reserve, a series of paths run between the visitor centre at Causeway Head and Hamilton’s Seat.
Rathlin Island, Antrim
At the western end of Rathlin Island, sheer cliffs rise more than 100 metres above raised beaches of rounded cobbles, with stacks of rock towering just off the shore. The best time of the year to visit Kebble is the height of the breeding season for seabirds, early May to mid-July when the cliffs and rocky islands are crowded with thousands of breeding seabirds.
Above the cliff top stretches an area of rough grassland and heather, broken by a lake and an area of marsh. These wet areas attract nesting waterfowl such as ducks, snipe, grebes and coots. Rabbits and hares graze on the reserve, while grey seals can be seen hauling themselves out on the rocky foreshore. There is a ferry service for foot passengers from Ballycastle to Church Bay on Rathlin Island.