So, this year I traveled down the Wild Atlantic Way and one of the most fabulous spots on the trip was the Cliffs of Moher. The sheer size alone is daunting. The history is also something to behold.
The Cliffs of Moher are the most visited natural attractions in Ireland. They are located in County Clare. They stretch for five kilometers along the Atlantic Coast. At their highest point, they reach 214 meters. The cliffs are certainly something to behold.
They demonstrate the beauty and force of nature in one swoop. To the south of the Cliffs of Moher, there is a rock that looks like a seated woman if you look at it from the North. The Cliffs receive over a million visitors every year and brings in a lot of revenue.
The Cliffs of Moher have a fascinating history. Humans have been telling stories about the cliffs for as long as they have known them. ‘Mothar’ is ancient Gaelic for ‘ruined fort’ and that is where the cliffs got their name.
There was a fort near the cliff around two millennia ago in the first century BC. The fort was located where the Moher Tower now stands. Human beings have used the cliff for many purposes. They used it for fishing, to collect eggs, for quarrying and as a vantage lookout point. However, the cliffs have given way to their current purpose, being a tourist destination.
Some of the stories that have been passed on for centuries from one human generation to the next have resulted in myths and legends that give the cliffs quite a mystic aura.
There exist several legends such as one told by a fisherman who claims to have met and talked to a mermaid by the cliffs while he was fishing. Another one is about the existence of a corpse eating eel that came to eat corpses from a nearby cemetery. One myth states that when Christianity was introduced to Ireland, some of the Celtic deities became angry.
They galloped away and took the form of horses while they hid in an intricate web of caves. When they came out of many years of hiding, they were blinded by the light and fell off the cliff to their demise hence the name, the leap of the foals. The above are only a few of the myths and legends surrounding the Moher cliffs.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the natural wonders of the Earth, and it is no surprise. The marvelous cliffs have been shaped for thousands of years by the ocean, weather conditions and the all-conquering Father Time.
The cliffs have taken on incredible shapes and formations that you will never see anywhere else. A lot of plant and animal wildlife can be located at the cliffs all throughout the year.
The rocks at the Cliffs of Moher are more than 300 million years old. The cliffs were formed as a result of sediments (sand, silt, and mud) from large rivers that fed the Atlantic. Over millions of years of accumulation, the sediments became a solid rock to form a layer. Layer upon layer of rock was formed until the Cliffs of Moher distinctively arose. Plants and animals both died and were buried under many layers of rocks.
For that reason, there are a lot of fossil formations under each rock layer of the Rocks of Moher. The rock layers are of different thickness, and each layer tells a story about the time that it was formed. The composition of the air in the atmosphere, the type of vegetation and the nature of wildlife at the time are all written in stone.
The Cliffs are still undergoing change as a result of natural causes. For example, due to tidal waves crashing against the cliffs for decades, the base sometimes get eroded causing the top of the cliffs to collapse into the water under their own weight.
The O’Brien Tower is the most notable human landmark around the Cliffs of Moher. The tower was constructed by Cornelius O’Brien, a descendant of the High King of Ireland. It is to the south of the visitor’s center and is very conspicuous.
Cornelius was a very foresighted man and saw that tourism would one day become integral to the area’s economy. The tower is an observation point for tourists and was also used as a look-out point before that. From the O’Brien tower, you can view the Galway Bay, Aill Na Searrach, Aran Islands, and Hags Head.
The Cliffs of Moher offer a very educational experience. The site is a popular attraction for school students’ tours. Students across many disciplines e.g. natural science or geology can visit the Cliffs and come out with a lot of valuable information helpful in their respective fields.
Traveling the Wild Atlantic Way along the West Coast of Ireland is a journey to remember. If you are in your vehicle, you get an amazing view of the whole coast, and it will be a journey of discovery to many places you have never seen before. It is captivating and aesthetically pleasing.
A drive down the Wild Atlantic way is a drive to which every motorist should look forward. As said earlier, the Cliffs of Moher are a very popular tourist attraction and can get crowded in July and August. They have a dedicated staff and excellent customer service.