The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher, highlighted by a precipitous drop to the turbulent
waters of the Atlantic, are one of the most spectacular sights in Ireland.
Located on Ireland's west coast between Liscannor Bay and the South Sound (near
Hags Head) the Cliffs are a dramatic sight. The drop to the Atlantic is
approximately 700 feet and almost straight down. The landscape evokes a feeling
of tenacity, as if Ireland (and the Irish) struggled up out of the sea and
continue to spit in the wind to show their determination to survive.
The Cliffs of Moher are a popular attraction and at over six miles in length,
there is room for everyone. Aside from an observation tower where you can
get a more panoramic view of the Cliffs, there is little development and the
wind, waves and weather all too often let you know who rules this rugged
Cornelius O'Brien, relative of the famed Brian Boru -
the historic king of Ireland, built the tower on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher
in the early 19th century, as a tourist attraction. From the tower you can
see north to the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and Connemara. A modest fee is
charged for admission.
There is now a new visitor center set into the hillside called the Visitor
Experience at the Cliffs of Moher (fee). It includes an interpretative
center called the Atlantic Edge, as well as a cafe, restaurant and audio-visual
theatre. Visit the official Cliffs of Moher
for information on the Cliffs and the visitor's center.
Often represented as "a landscape from another world", or a "moonscape", the
Burren is a bare-rock area comprised of uniquely weathered limestone. The
area is known for its megalithic burial mounds and dolmens.
Burren is variant of the type of landscape known as karst. In these areas,
layers of dense, highly jointed, thinly bedded limestone are extremely
susceptible to erosion, which results an environment with caves, springs,
streams in unexpected places, and a unique look. In addition, during the Ice
Age, the Burren was pulverized by glaciers that left a rolling, rocky, plane.
Today, the area looks like a "rock graveyard" with blocks of limestone of
various sizes, ranging from large plates to small stones, spread haphazardly
across low rolling hills. Most vegetation has a hard time growing in glaciated,
limestone areas, but an amazing variety of plants that grow nowhere else in
Ireland, make the Burren their home.
The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern section of the Burren
and covers approximately six square miles. For information on visiting the
park and for information on the areas wildlife, see the park's
More than five thousand years ago, the early inhabitants of the area, used
slabs of limestone to build temples and portal tombs, sometimes called dolmens.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen (off R480 - north and east of Lisdoonvarna and south of
Ballyvaughan) is shown in the photograph above. A number of these interesting
sites are spread throughout the Burren.
Plan to see the Burren on your way to or from the Cliffs of Moher. The
Burren (located in northwest County Clare and south of Galway) is promoted as a
"must see" in all the guidebooks, but will appeal mostly to hikers who have time
to explore this area. There are several locations that serve as visitor centers
to the Burren. If you are thinking about seeing this area, consider
stopping at the Burren Visitor Centre at
There are several other attractions ringing the Burren that should be on your
list if you visit this area. If you drive up from the south, you might
take a slight detour through Doolin to see Doonagore Castle that dates from the
16th century. Although a private residence and closed to the public this
small castle is a photographers delight and not far off the beaten path.
Next, plan to stop in
. It is
Ireland's major spa town and its therapeutic waters are widely known. This
small village is also the matchmaking center of Ireland. September is the
time the Lisdoonvarna hosts one of Europe's most famous annual matchmaking
festivals, but unless you are looking for romance, we recommend you avoid the
town in September.
Finally, take some time to visit Kinvara (also spelled Kinvarra)
town (a former fishing village), is quite scenic and it hosts nearby
Dunguaire Castle, one of the most photographed castles in Ireland. The
castle, which dates from the early 16th century, overlooks Galway Bay.
It is operated by Shannon Development and medieval banquets are held April
through October, although the ground are open to day visitors from May thought
September. See the Shannon Development site for information on the castle
or attending its
In a curious twist of fate, the area around Kinvara is now being developed with
luxury homes. For years this empty but delightful coastal plain was just
"another empty stretch". Now it appears to be transitioning to a bedroom
community for Galway or summer homes for successful Dubliners.
More Places To Visit In Western Ireland
Click here for
page 3 of our Guide to Ireland's West, featuring the Connemara, Kylemore
Abbey and the Aran Islands
Or, Click the jump bar at the bottom of this page to go
directly to the descriptions of the listed attractions in Ireland's West
Or, use the link menu on the right-edge of this page to
explore another of Ireland's wonderful regions.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.