Rising a daunting 214 meters over the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher have become an iconic landmark, with incredible views to boot. One of the country’s most visited attractions, the cliffs are located in County Clare, and run from near the village of Doolin for around 8 km to Hags Head (so called as the headland resembles a woman’s head gazing out to sea).
An astonishing gift of nature, the cliffs were carved out by a gigantic river delta around 320 million years ago, and remain an imposing spectacle, with almost vertical sides plummeting towards the ocean below. Often cloaked in fog and ravaged by ferocious coastal winds, the barrier-less cliff edges are not to be taken lightly, but the route, mostly frequented by walkers and day-trippers, has become a magnet for adrenaline-seeking cyclists and motorcyclists, with the route skirting close to the cliff’s edge.
Those less inclined to daredevil antics, or those on a Cliffs of Moher tour, can enjoy the equally dramatic views from the raised viewing platforms dotted along the coastal path, and the expansive panoramas offer views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, The Twelve Pins and the northern Maum Turk Mountains. O’Brien’s Tower, constructed as an observation point back in 1835, lies at the cliff’s highest point. It’s not just the landscape visitors can ogle– the cliffs (designated a Special Protection Area for Birds) are a veritable playground for sea birds and the swooping aerial show of Common Gulls, Chough, Razorbuill and Atlantic Puffins, is sure to incite a few gasps from onlookers on a Dublin day trip rail tour of the area.
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre opened back in 2007, offering exhibitions, a restaurant and information on the region, makes a good starting point for excursions and there are plenty of possible side-trips if you have more time to spend. Take the ferry to the nearby Aran Islands, a collection of three islands still inhabited by a traditional Gaelic-speaking community; explore the rocky expanse of Burren, home to a surprising array of Mediterranean, Alpine and Arctic wildlife; or visit Dooline Cave, home to ‘The Great Stalactite’, one of the world’s largest, measuring almost 7 meters in length.