The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland - History

Wikimedia Commons The Cliffs of Moher began to form during the Upper Carboniferous period.

Standing 700 feet high and running for about 9 miles, the majestic Cliffs of Moher are the crown jewels of Ireland’s west coast. With their astounding height and breathtaking views, these rock formations are some of the most visited natural attractions on the Emerald Isle.

But the Cliffs of Moher are famous for more than just their beauty. Formed over 300 million years ago, they boast a fascinating history — and mythology. From mermaids to a lost city, there’s no question that these cliffs have inspired some of the most interesting Irish folktales.

Even in recent years, the Cliffs of Moher have served as an ideal backdrop for a number of Hollywood fantasy films — including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride.

Take a closer look at these famous cliffs — and learn the many reasons why over a million people visit them each year.

1. Cliffs of Moher Facts to Know

Where Are the Cliffs of Moher?

These mesmerizing cliffs are located on Ireland’s west coast in County Clare. They stretch along 5 miles (8 km) down the length of the famous Wild Atlantic Way.

How Tall Are These Famous Cliffs in Ireland?

At Hag’s Head, these rock faces rise 390 ft (120 m) above the ocean. About 8 km north at O’brien’s Tower, they stand at 702 ft (214 m) above sea level.

How Did the Irish Cliffs Get Their Name?

The Cliffs of Moher, or Aillte an Mhothair in Irish, was named after a promontory fort called ‘Mothar,’ which means ‘the ruin of a fort’ in Gaelic. This fort no longer stands today as it was torn down in the early 1800s during the Napoleonic wars.

How Did the Cliffs of Moher Form?

These Ireland cliffs are said to be over 300 million years old. Before these rocky cliffs formed, rivers flowed to this part of the ocean, depositing sediment of sandstone, siltstone, and shale onto the seafloor. Over several million years, the natural landform compacted to form solid rocks, which were then pushed upwards as the earth’s tectonic plates shifted.

Movies That Feature The Cliffs of Moher

These famous cliffs in Ireland have featured in several films, including The Princess Bride, Leap Year, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Folklores About These Cliffs in Ireland

Ireland is a country steeped in myths, traditions, and folklore, and there’s no exception for the Cliffs of Moher. Numerous tales incorporate this natural wonder, such as The Mermaid of Moher, The Corpse-Eating Eel, and The Legend of the Hag and Cú Chulainn.

The last folktale tells of a witch, Mal, who chased Cú Chulainn and found her end on the face of these cliffs. Legend says that Hag’s Head rock resembles the side profile of the witch’s face.

Legends of the Cliffs of Moher

The brethtaking landscape of the Cliffs of Moher has also inspired numerous legends. One of these, for instance, relates to a rock formation known as Hag’s Head. According to this legend, there was a witch called Mal who was madly in love with Cu Chulainn, a legendary hero in Irish mythology. Cu Chulainn, however, did not reciprocate these feelings, causing Mal to chase him all over Ireland. The pair eventually arrived south of the Cliffs of Moher, on the mouth of the Shannon River, and the hero leapt to Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock, an island. Mal followed, and, thanks to a gust of wind, landed on the island too. As soon as the witch got onto the island, Cu Chulainn leapt back, and the witch followed. Unfortunately, there was no wind this time, and Mal fell to her death. The rocks on which Mal fell became known as Hag’s Head, as they are believed to have taken on the shape of Mal’s profile.

Cliffs of Moher south of the O’Brien Tower. (Image credit: Ioannis Syrigos)

Another legend tells of a sunken city called Kilstiffen. According to this tale, the city sank under the waves when the chieftain lost the golden key that opened the doors of the castle. The legend also states that the city will remain submerged until the golden key is returned. Some have claimed that the underwater city can be seen below the surface of the sea, whilst others believe that the city rises once every seven years. There may be a basis for this legend, as submerged forests and bogs from ancient times are visible within the reef of Liscannor Bay.

View out from O’Brien’s Tower to the Cliffs of Moher. (Image credit: Ioannis Syrigos)

Top image: The O’Brien Tower on the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. Credit: Ioannis Syrigos

The visitor experience recorded 1.427 million visits in 2016, up 14% on 2015, and up 52% in off-peak December, for example. Numbers are so large, and have grown so fast, that there are capacity problems at time, notably from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in peak season, and visitors are increasingly encouraged to come at other times, with discounts given to coach operators who book for off-peak slots, and late opening of the centre introduced for July and much of August. Furthermore, later-arriving visitors have been facilitated by the fitting of automatically opening exit gates from the official car parking facilities.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience won an award in the Interpret Britain & Ireland Awards 2007 awarded by the Association of Heritage Interpretation (AHI). Although the award was specifically for the Atlantic Edge exhibition, the AHI assessed the entire visitor centre and site. The citation stated that the entire visitor centre was “one of the best facilities that the judges had ever seen.”

Cliffs of Moher - County Clare

The Cliffs of Moher are a majestic, remnant of the last ice age and Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, with over a million visitors annually. Perched on the Western most edge of Europe, the next landfall or parish, as they say here in Ireland is some 5000 miles across the Atlantic ocean in Boston or New York. A modern visitor centre The Atlantic Edge Experience, not only explains the geological background, flora and fauna, using interactive media, but also the local history, music and folklore of the area. It is an excellent addition, in that it keeps children of all ages informed, amused and entertained in what can be a disappointing experience should the cliffs be shrouded in mist, fog and rain, or as one visitor put it recently 'flying weather'. You can visit independently, but my tips are to visit at sunrise or sunset when you will most likely have the cliffs to yourself and nice light for taking photographs. Another nice way of seeing the cliffs is to take a guided walk with local farmer Pat Sweeney or the Cliffs of Moher cruise (on a calm day) from Doolin pier for a totally different perspective.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Poised to achieve international recognition and acclaim on the back of the Irish film called Waveriders Ireland is now being promoted as a premier surf destination, something these cool dudes have known forever. The film features these fearless, crazy surfers chasing the famous 80' high Ailies wave beneath the Cliffs of Moher. Rather them, than me.

10 Other things to do and see near the Cliffs of Moher.

1 Atlantis take a bracing walk along the top of the cliffs to try and spot or hear the fabled bells of Ireland's very own lost city of Atlantis. You might also spot some basking sharks which have returned in great numbers off shore.

2 St Brigid’s well about 2 miles south of the cliffs on the right beside the O'Brien monument is a very famous holy well, and a revered place of local pilgrimage every Spring on the 1st of February, but you can visit anytime.

3 Vaughan's Restaurant stop for something to eat in the little seaside village of Liscannor, superb food served all day in a traditional pub atmosphere, excellent pints & deserts!

4 Cliffs of Moher Cruise take a scenic boat tour along the base of the cliffs, out of Doolin to see the puffin colonies, this is really great and fun to do with plenty of excellent photo opportunities for the snap happy.

5 O'Connors Pub in Doolin, on the go since 1832, famous throughout Ireland and even the world for traditional Irish music sessions or seisúins as they are known as gaelige. Their beef in Guinness stew is still one of best in Ireland.

6 Doolin Cave see the largest stalactite in the northern hemisphere, great Indiana Jones style adventure (limited to 15 at a time so book early online) we're talking hard hats with torches, yea.

7 Aloha Surf try your hand at surfing or improve your skill with a lesson from the pros at Fanore Beach, one of Irelands 10 Best Beaches or stop into O'Donohue's Pub opposite the post office in Fanore for the best pints of Guinness, chowder, grab claws in garlic, fresh fish and chips this side of the Atlantic.

8 Ballinalackin Castle Hotel enjoy some good old fashioned Irish hospitality with a stay in this friendly country house hotel with the best breakfast sausages in Ireland.

9 Burren Smokehouse help yourself to free samples of premium oak smoked salmon & other artisan food goodies in this wonderful little food emporium in Lisdoonvarna.

10 The Wild Honey Inn enjoy a well earned gourmet lunch or dinner at this wonderful gastro pub which is really making a name for itself with foodies in Ireland.

Cost and Hours

The cost to visit the Cliffs of Moher includes all-day parking and access to the visitor’s center. The price depends on the type of ticket and if you are visiting during peak hours. Booking tickets online can save up to 50 percent of the cost.

Cliffs of Moher Prices
Category In Person Online for
8 a.m. – 10:59 a.m.
Online for
11 a.m. – 3:59 p.m.
Online for
4 p.m. – Close
Adult €8 €4 €8 €4
Under 16* Free Free Free Free
(with ID)
€7 €4 €7 €4
(over 65)
€5 €4 €5 €5

*Up to four children 0-16 years of age can visit for free with one paying adult.

These prices technically only apply to visitors who drive to the cliffs and park in the designated area and/or use the visitor's center. However, there is no other nearby parking. The only way to access the cliffs for free is to walk from Doolin or Lahinch.

The cost of the general ticket to visit the cliffs does not include access to O’Brien’s Tower. Adult admission for the tower is €4. Children under 16 are admitted for free with a paying adult.

Visiting hours depend on the season, though ticket prices remain the same. The cliffs and the visitor’s center are open on the following schedule (with the last admission allowed 20 minutes before closing time):

  • November – February: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • March – April: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • May – August: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • September – October: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cliffs of Moher: County Clare Ireland: Official Guidebook

Discover how the Cliffs of Moher were formed, learn about the birds that inhabit its ledges and the flowers that survive in this harsh environment.

The Cliffs of Moher, ten kilometers or so of headlands, rock faces, scree slopes and offshore stacks, which stretch around a remote cape in west County Clare.

Because of their height and ferocity the Cliffs of Moher stand at the Discover how the Cliffs of Moher were formed, learn about the birds that inhabit its ledges and the flowers that survive in this harsh environment.

The Cliffs of Moher, ten kilometers or so of headlands, rock faces, scree slopes and offshore stacks, which stretch around a remote cape in west County Clare.

Because of their height and ferocity the Cliffs of Moher stand at the edge of Europe rather than the beginning of the western ocean. For anybody coming from the east they are the last stop on the road to nowhere. This perhaps adds to their loneliness and stark beauty. From the west only the pulsating flocks of gulls and seabirds arrive to add their shrill cries to the shifting hubbub of the winds that blow across the cliff tops. Even the few monuments of man along their length seem like interlopers - the towers a pathetic attempt to give scale to the vastness of cliff, sea and horizon, and the quarries the nibbling of human mice at a vast, divine crumbling cheese.

This pictorial guidebook endeavours to introduce the visitor to the magic and the majesty of the Cliffs of Moher. . more

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin, also known as the Cliffs of Coher from the Irish: Mhothair) 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 1835, as an observation tower for the hundreds of tourists that frequented the cliffs even at that date. 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.

Moher tower, located at Hag's Head, is a square stone ruin. It appears to be the remains of a watchtower placed during Napoleon's reign in Europe.

The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs. One can see 300 million year old river channels cutting through the base of the cliffs.

There are many animals living on the cliffs, most of them birds: 30,000 birds of 29 species. The most interesting are the famous 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 are amongst the most impressive places to see in Ireland, and are widely considered to be Ireland's top tourist attraction, drawing almost one million visitors in 2006.

The site has been developed by Clare County Council and Shannon Heritage to allow visitors to experience the spectacular natural impression of the Cliffs, without the distraction of overly-imposing man-made amenities or features.

In keeping with this carefully-balanced 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 meticulously planned and built over a 17 year period, the &euro32m facility features an informative 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 Cliffs Of Moher

At the centre of the Wild Atlantic Way in Co Clare are the stunning Cliffs of Moher. Stretching out into the mist along the North Clare coastline, the Cliffs of Moher are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Their sheer drop into the heaving Atlantic ocean is a well known haven for sea birds. Waves crash below, seabirds whirl above and paths wind along the cliff-edge between villages with photo opportunities all the way.

Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way on Irelands west coast the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most outstanding coastal features of Ireland. Rising slowly from Doolin village they ascend to over 700 feet (213 metres) boasting some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ireland. They have become one of Irelands premier tourist attraction and a must see for many people visiting Ireland.

Be wowed with panoramic views from dramatic cliff edges. Feel blasts of fresh sea air along the Cliff Trails. Walk along some of Ireland's most exhilarating coastal scenery. Grab a fireside seat at a traditional music session in the picturesque village of Doolin. Unmissable.


The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walking Trail, starts in Doolin and Liscannor hugging the cliff edge most of the way. More Information


The best way to experienec the Cliffs is to explore the trails with a guide. More Information -->


Marvel at the scale of the Cliffs of Moher from sea level. Spot the seabirds nesting on the cliff-edge. More Information -->


For most people experience the Cliffs of Moher by visiting the Cliffs of Moher Vistor Experience. More Information -->


Discover the love and laughter, food and music, scenery and spectacles in Doolin village.
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The Cliffs of Moher has to be one of the most magical places in the world to say "I DO". More Information

Watch the video: Cliffs Of Moher Amazing Footage Co Clare (January 2022).