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Flashback Friday: The Cliffs of Moher

The stunning and spectacular Cliffs of Moher are on the southwestern coast of the Burren Region in County Clare, Ireland. Soaring up from the Atlantic waters over 213 metres (700 ft), they stretch over 14 kilometres (8.5 miles) in length and are part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Burren region is hard, karst bedrock that includes limestone which has eroded into cliffs, caves, and interesting rock formations. The cliffs are home to many seabirds, including puffins.

These little purple flowers are only found in two places in the world... The Burren and the Swiss Alps.

Visitors wanting to explore the area will find the main Cliffs of Moher includes 800 metres of paved pathways with viewing areas across the waters. I was told, but cannot confirm, that on a clear day, it is possible to see the Aran Islands and beyond.

The Visitor Centre is an almost hobbit-like building built into the earth and features a really interesting interactive exhibit, a gift shop and a couple of cafés. Take some time to check out the exhibition that explains the geology, wildlife, and human populations of the area. Before heading outside to check out the Cliffs for yourself, visit their website to download their visitor app and audio guide. Binoculars can be rented. For the 2022 season, only online bookings are accepted for a cost of 7€ (about $10 CAD). For people with mobility issues, there is an electric cart (called The Lifts of Moher) that visitors can ride to the viewing areas.

O'Brien's Tower was built on the top of the cliffs in the early 1800s by the local landlord and owner, Sir Cornelius O'Brien. He intended the tower to be a viewing area for the English tourists.

Some stories say it was used as a teahouse but others suggest he built it to impress the local ladies with his husbandly worth. Today, it is used for weddings and other events.

On the early July day that I visited, the weather had turned rainy and cold. A guide, Anthony (the "haitch is silent") insisted that the mists would clear. Taking his confidence as expertise, I bundled up and headed out for a walk along the tops of the cliffs.

At first, it was foggy and damp with a bracing wind. I walked along one path as far as possible and was quite surprised to see farm animals. Much of the land surrounding the cliffs is local farmland.

It turned out that Anthony was right. The mists do clear every so often. As I scrambled along the paths and the wind moved the mists, I caught tantalizing glimpses of the cliffs.

The closest airport is Shannon airport. To travel by train from any of the major Irish cities, take a train to Ennis via Limerick. Bus Éireann runs a daily service from Galway and Ennis. There are many day tours available from Galway, Limerick, and even Dublin (although that would be a very long day due to having to spend at least 7 hours on the road).

I spent almost a full day exploring. The website suggests a couple of hours will be enough to visit. I, however, spent at least 5 hours walking the cliffs, enjoying a fine lunch, and visiting the exhibition. If the weather had been more pleasant, I likely would have spent even more time.


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