The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin, also known as the Cliffs of Mohair) are located in the parish of Liscannor at the south-western edge of the Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland.
The cliffs rise 120 meters (394 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O'Brien's Tower, eight kilometres away. The cliffs boast one of Ireland's most spectacular views. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara.
O'Brien's Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Ireland's High King Brian Boru, in order to impress female visitors. From atop that watchtower, one can view the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Maum Turk Mountains and the Twelve Pins to the north in Connemara, and Loop Head to the south.
Geology and Wildlife:
The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the
oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs. It is possible to see
300 million year old river channels cutting through the base of the cliffs.
There are many animals living on the cliffs. Most of these are birds,
with an estimated 30,000 birds from 29 species. These include the noted
Atlantic Puffins, which live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs
and on the small Goat Island. Also present are hawks, gulls, guillemots,
shags, ravens and choughs.
The Cliffs of Moher is amongst the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, and topped the list of attractions in 2006 by drawing almost one million visitors.
Building work at the Cliffs, November 2005
The site has been developed by Clare County Council to allow visitors to experience the Cliffs, without the distraction of overly-imposing man-made amenities or features. In keeping with this approach, the "Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience" is built into a hillside approaching the Cliffs, blending naturally with the surrounding countryside. The centre is also environmentally sensitive in its use of renewable energy systems including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and greywater recycling.
Officially opened in February 2007, having been planned and built over a 17 year period, the €32 million facility features an array of interactive media, exploring topics such as the origin of the Cliffs in local and global geological contexts, the bird and fish life in the area, and many more. An IMAX-type multimedia show allows visitors to experience a bird's eye view from the cliffs, as well as seeing the inside of underwater caves at the foot of the cliffs. The official Cliffs of Moher website features pictures and information on tours, school trips and other areas of interest.
There is a charge of 8,00€ per car for admission. This covers all people in the car and is termed a "facilities charge" - it includes access to the visitor centre building, parking and a contribution towards conservation and safety at the cliffs. Visitors to the Atlantic Edge exhibition are charged an additional 4 euros per adult.
Cliffs of Moher Cruise
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience won an award in the Interpret Britain & Ireland Awards 2007 awarded by the Association of Heritage Interpretation. Although the award was specifically for the Atlantic Edge exhibition, the AHI assessed the entire visitor centre and site. The citation states that the entire visitor centre was "one of the best facilities that the judges had ever seen."
Ferry trips also allow tourists to view the Cliffs of Moher from sea level.