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The Cliffs of Moher

Home > Ireland > Nature | Places of Interest
Published August 22nd 2014
Get swept away by Ireland's mind-altering beauty
Picture this: a character in a tragic love story - Wuthering Heights perhaps - decides to end it all. Unrequited love, or star crossed lovers, or something like that.

The Cliffs of Moher look exactly like the kind of place you might find broken-hearted characters from Victorian novels, wracked with longing. They're stories all about drama and crazy, extravagant passion, after all. And there are few places as dramatic and passion-inspiring as these windswept Irish cliffs.

With views to startle the gold out of a leprechaun's pocket, this magnificent destination will virtually teleport you to a magical time, long before the mundane reality of parking tickets, office jobs and traffic jams.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs
There must be a pot of gold here somewhere...

Located on Ireland's west coast, an hour and a half south of Galway, and three hours from Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher are possibly the most wildly beautiful and spectacular natural feature you will ever witness. The Cliffs match Scotland's Dunnottar Castle in terms of pure mindblowing magnificence.

Sitting 120 metres above the Atlantic Oceans, and stretching out over eight kilometres, the waves below range from wild and ferocious as they crash against the rocks to the type of peaceful vista that you could meditate in front of for hours.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs
Not the ideal location for roller blading.

The Cliffs are one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions with one million visitors each year. But if you go in the winter, you may just find yourself looking out from the cliffs to the Aran Islands in complete and utter peace and solitude.

You might even hear the faraway sound of the Irish tin whistle. Or perhaps you'll be inspired to pen a limerick, or failing that, a Celtic poem.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs
More green here than you'll find at the Rainbow Serpent festival.

They're beautiful and they're famous – so naturally they pop up in movies from time-to-time. They were the "Cliffs of Insanity" in The Princess Bride and they've also featured in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Leap Year, Ryan's Daughter, and Bringing Out the Dead.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs, Princess Bride
Westley scales the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride.

The Cliffs are also the subject of some marvellous folklore. One end of the cliffs is believed to resemble a woman's face and is named "Hags Head" accordingly. In Irish folklore, a hag by the name of Mal fell madly in love with the hero Cú Chulainn.

Unfortunately, dearest Cú just didn't feel the same. Alas. He ended up running all over Ireland trying to escape her desirous clutches. Mal tried to follow him – arms outstretched, lips pouted and puckered – but she tripped and fell accidentally and fell to her death at Hags Head, staining the sea with her blood.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs
Edges that you could ski off. Not that you would, of course.

In the first century, a fort was built on Hags Head, which was named Moher. It was demolished in 1808, but it was from this fort the cliffs took their name. In ancient Gaelic, the word "mothar" means "ruined fort". Hence the Cliffs of Moher mean "cliffs of the ruined fort".

Luckily, there's still a pretty little fort on the Cliffs. O'Brien's Tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of an Irish king. Even back in the 19th century, O'Brien seemed to know a thing or two about tourism, and thought the tower would help attract visitors to the area and benefit the local area's economy. It was used as an observation tower. Definitely a fella ahead of his time.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs, O'Brien's Tower
A tower that knows the importance of being earnest.

The Cliffs are an enchanted location that will sweep you away from your Guinness and towards the spellbinding crashing waves, swooping birds and vast green plains.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, cliffs, O'Brien's Tower
Have fun stormin' da castle!
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Why? Because there's nowhere else quite like it
Where: Liscannor, Co. Clare, Ireland
Cost: Adults €6, concession €4 and children under 16 free of charge.
Your Comment
What an amazing view.
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12643) 3220 days ago
Looking for things to do in Ireland and I found your piece totally gripping. What beautiful writing.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|6152) 2003 days ago
Hello Amber, fantastic piece. The cliffs are truly awe inspiring (however I'm not too sure about your claim they could rip me from my Guinness). My darling wife and I were there way back in 1994 to see the lands (and castle) of my forebears. Yes, I'm a decendant of the O'Briens - some still live nearby in Milltown Malbay. Your lovely story has brought back wonderful memories. Thank you, Tony
by Tony Dyer (score: 2|513) 3221 days ago
Great article - reminds me I need to go back to see it. My daughter was at Trinity College and returned after Christmas 2020 to find that one of her flat mates, another student, had died falling from the Cliffs of Moher - so take great care whilst you're walking. It is not a movie set in its natural condition.
I love the mention of Cú Chulainn - especially after seeing "him" in the GPO in Dublin and listening to his story in the Talking Statues.
Thanks very much for an entertaining tale with great history
by Gail Clifford MD (score: 1|95) 335 days ago
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