Sunday, September 1, 2019

Cliffs of Moher

This was my sixth trip to Ireland but my first time visiting County Clare. I've been all over the world and I can safely say that the west coast of Ireland is one of the most jaw-dropping parts of the planet that I've seen. It's rough and rugged while being stunningly beautiful at the same time.

We stayed in the quaint little seaside town of Lahinch. While the town might be tiny, its reputation is huge. 

Lahinch Golf Club
The Lahinch Golf Club is a links golf course. It was rated one of the finest golf courses in Ireland and is one of the top 100 courses in Britain and Ireland. It recently hosted the Dubai Irish Open 2019.

Lahinch Surf School

Lahinch is also known as the surfing capital of Ireland. Aileen's is a wave located at the base of the Cliffs of Moher that draws world-class surfers.
Dozens of surfers try to catch the last waves of the day

In certain conditions, the wave can reach 60 feet and has been compared to some of the biggest waves in the world such as Jaws in my former home of Maui.

Surfers Only
Aileen's has been featured in the movies Sea Fever and Wave Riders.

Lahinch and the Cliffs of Moher are located on The Wild Atlantic Way, a tourism trail that spans the west coast of Ireland, and parts of the north and south coasts.

The 1,700-mile (2,700-km) driving route is the largest coastal tourist route in the world, passing through 9 counties and 3 provinces.

It starts in County Donegal on the Inishowen peninsula and ends in Kinsale, County Cork.

The Cliffs of Moher are just a short 15-minute drive from Lahinch. This worked out very well for us because we had all-day rain and fog that resulted in zero visibility. Once the skies cleared, we were able to jump in the car and see the cliffs before it got dark. 

The Cliffs are in the UNESCO Global Geopark; a special region with outstanding geology. They are also part of The Burren, which I wrote about in a previous post on the Doolin Cave. To recap, The Burren is a region of geological interest primarily located in Co. Clare. The landscape is dominated by limestone karsts with underground drainage systems that form caves. The word Burren or Boireann in Irish means, "great rock." 

The Cliffs of Moher's highest point is 702 feet (214 meters) and they span 5 miles (8 kilometers).

O'Brien's Tower
O'Brien's Tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien as a viewing point for tourists. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and on a clear day, enjoy views of 5 counties.

The Cliffs of Moher is also a Special Protected Area under the EU Birds Directive of 1979. It is home to Ireland's largest mainland seabird nesting colony including Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Coughs, Peregrine Falcons and more. Other wildlife you may see are cows, wild goats, dolphins, seals, shark, and whales.

The eco-friendly visitor center, with its grass roof, is set into the hillside so as to not detract from the natural beauty of this scenic location. This cave-like structure reminded me of Hobbiton from the book, The Hobbit.

The visitor center is 2 floors and houses 2 caf├ęs, 2 gift shops, restrooms, a first aid room, baggage store, reception area & ticketing desks, an ATM, accommodation booking & information points, and a museum.

The Cliffs Exhibition is located on the ground floor of the visitor center and is fully wheelchair accessible. 

It tells the story of the Cliffs of Moher through the themes of ocean, rock, nature, and man.

There is a theater that plays a short movie called the "Ledge Experience" which through the use of 3 large angled screens, gives you a birds-eye view of the cliffs. I didn't feel like sitting down to watch a movie but my husband dragged me into the theater and I wound up loving it! There is also another 10-minute movie called "The Clare Journey" located in the center of the main exhibition space.

Unfortunately, some of the high-tech interactives were not working. For example, in one area visitors can select a photo of the cliffs as a backdrop and then have their picture taken to create a digital postcard to email to a friend. None of the touch screens were working and the camera wasn't working either. Sometimes, high-tech means high maintenance and I always find it very disappointing when technology doesn't work.

There were also some cute interactives for children. Since the adult interactives weren't working, we played with the kids' exhibits instead and learned about the birdlife in the area.

You can't go wrong with a good old-fashioned tangible museum display. It's always good to have a mix of high-tech and low-tech so that there's a back-up when something breaks. 

The exhibition is self-guided and takes between 25-45 minutes. The museum and entire visitor center are included with your admission fee to The Cliffs.

If you are planning a trip to the west of Ireland then the Cliffs of Moher should be #1 on your list. 
It is a phenomenal experience that should not be missed.