The Coastal Atlantic Shield of Ireland – ‘The Cliffs of Moher’

..the giant sea cliffs, the country’s western fortification against the destructive forces of the mighty atlantic, an army of soldiers wearing blue and white cape, sent by the God of the seas and oceans himself,

Poseidon…

TodaysWanderluster present’s you, with this week’s article on the Cliffs of Moher,

‘The Cliffs of Moher’

… do you love reading about cliffs? Make sure to check out our previous blog article on Mizen Head “the last sight of Europe” … .

>To Mizen Head

hey guys,

Welcome back to TodaysWanderluster !! It is Friday 2nd of October, the day where we will hit the road once again, in search of yet another fascinating place which finds itself burried in the vast lands of beauty of the country of Ireland.

This week we will be heading north towards Clare county, where we will explore one of the country’s most well-known tourist spots, the famous Cliffs of Moher by the Atlantic Ocean.

Our this week’s location, The Cliffs of Moher.


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This article is divided into three sections.


Discovering the Cliffs of Moher

 ‘Aillte an Mhothair‘ as gaeilge,

the Irish for the giant sea cliffs, the country’s western fortification against the destructive forces of the mighty atlantic, an army of soldiers wearing blue and white cape, sent by the God of the seas and oceans himself, Poseidon, soldiers of the sea on horseback riding at the speed of lightning, taking no rests, riding day and night,

on a long journey in reaching the western coastline fortification of Ireland,

the Cliffs of Moher.

Beyond the rolling and ascending fields of lime and green, grazing clusters of sheep on a blue sky day ressembling daisies on a patch of garden grass, the heavy and bulky boulders, small villages that appear once in a life time as it seems to the driver who’s undertaking a long journey to the west, on the old narrow countryside roads that swerve and bend at every corner, almost like a snake that unlike an ordinary garden snale.. cannot push in one straight line…

appear the ancient Irish treasure by the atlantic, standing at the southwestern edge of the Burren region on the soil of Clare county in the Irish southern province of Munster.


Tourism & Recreational

Approx. 270 Km away from the capital, Dublin, these cliffs run for 14 Km at their coastline, rise up to 120 meters above the sea level at one of it’s known point’s,

‘Hag’s Head’ . ..

.. however their maximum height goes well above that figure, 8 km further up (north east) near the O’Brien’s Tower, the Cliffs of Moher reach a maximum of 214 meters.

The name given to these cliffs is taken from an old promotory fort that once stood at the cliff’s southermost point of it’s cliffed coastline, Hag’s Head, where today we can find the remnants of an old stone Napoleonic-era watchtower ,

‘the Moher Tower’.

The promotory fort, was referred to on a few occasions by writers such as Thomas Hohnson Westropp in his 1905 work ‘Moher Uí Ruis or Moher Uí Ruidhin‘. The history of the fort is touched on in John Lloyd’s account written in the year 1780, ‘A Short Tour of Clare’ where the autor shares with us that the Fort still stood at Hag’s Head in 1780 but at the turn of the century in 1808, the fort was demolished in order to provide building material for a lookout/telegraph tower which was going to be placed in the area, in the intention of providing a warning in the event of a French invasion during the Napoleonic wars.

Flying across to the other side of the Cliffs of Moher, one will come across the O’Brien’s Tower which is one of the two tower houses in the area.

‘The O’Brien’s Tower’

..a round stone tower, built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien in 1835.

Some of the other structures in the area include the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre (which we will walk to.. in just a moment) and the villages of Liscannor and Doolin which are both the nearest settlements to the Cliffs of Moher.

. . .

A place where we can catch sight of some beautiful and scenic views of this western fortification (Cliffs of Moher) and the Atlantic waves crashing into the walls of the sedimentary strata preserved cliffs in Clare, is the Moher Coastal Walk or the ‘Official Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk’.

Tripadvisor

Amazing and awe-inspiring… Makes you humble.

Running for 18 Km, the coastal walk stretches from as far as Hag’s Head expanding onto Doolin and passing the O’Brien’s Tower with the Visitor Centre only a few steps away, it is mainly composed of two trails, one official trail which for safety reasons is set back just a little and an un-official trail that runs very close to the edge.

Our camera’s here will catch the atlantic composition of the Aran Islands in the Galway Bay from afar the Maumturks, from the north the twelve Pins mountain range in Galway County and to the south, ‘Loop Head’.

Visitors travelling on ferries in the waters near the cliffs, will get the chance to view the cliffs from sea level whilst others, might just get lucky to view this Clare gem from a bird’s eye view when flying on board of the fixed-wing aircraft setting off from Connemara Airport.

As hinted earlier, the Cliffs of Moher in Clare are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country of Ireland. 2006 was the year where the Cliffs of Moher was seen to top the list of attractions from drawing almost 1,000,000 visitors (1.5 million per annum as of currently for the total visit number). Later in 2011, the Cliffs of Moher formed a part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, this geopark regarded as one of a family of geotourism destinations in Europe and members of the European Geoparks Network and later in 2015, the site being recognized as a UNESCO designation.

The Cliffs of Moher form part of the Wild Atlantic Way (which stretches from the picturesque town of Kinsale in Cork County all the way to the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal County), the Cliffs said to be a “signature point” on the major tourist trail.

. . .

Built into a hillside, as one will notice when on the approach to the cliffs, stands the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, a €32 million environmentally sensitive facility in it’s function and use of renewable energy systems like geothermal heating, cooling, solar panels and grey water recyling… . and looking alot like the teletubbies hut, yeah we know.

Built over the course of a 17 year period, the Visitor Centre was finally completed and officially opened in 2007, exhibiting interactive media displays of the geology and history as well as the flora and fauna of the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher Atlantic Exhibition at the centre is a large multimedia screen inside of a cave displaying a bird’s eye view of the cliffs and a video from the underwater caves below the cliffs with the goal to familiarise it’s visitors with the cliffs from giving insight to how they appear from the perspective of the animals that live there.

The Visitor Centre at the Cliffs of Moher won an award in the the Interpret Britain & Ireland Awards 2007, for it’s Atlantic Edge Exhibition, awarded by the Association of Heritage Interpretation who stated that the facility was …

Association of Heritage Interpretation

“one of the best facilities that the judges had ever seen.”

Geology & Wildlife

Some of the oldest rocks of the Cliffs of Moher can be found just at the bottom of the Cliffs that formed between 313 and 326 million years ago where as given by wikipedia, deposited into an ancient marine basin by a river were the chunks of sand, silt and clay that over the course of millions of years became compacted sediments at the the mouth of the ancient delta that were then liftified into the sedimentary strata preserved in the exposed cliffs that mainly consist of namurian shale and sandstone.

Speaking of individual strata varying in their thickness from just as little as a few centimeters to several meters, each layer represents a distinct depositional event in the history of delta.

With over 200 meters of sedimentary rocks exposed, we can notice an abundance of trace fossils that amount to two main types, the scolicia or worming trails, both interpreted as left over feeding trails by invertebrates that to this day, still haven’t been indentified and burrow marks, circular features preserved as casts of burrows by unindentified marine creatures. Other remnants include, ripple marks that can be found preserevd in some stones around the Cliffs of Moher.

Subject to Erosion by wave action, the natural process causes the cliffs to collapse under it’s own weight creating a variety of coastal landforms that we can spot almost anywhere when exploring the Cliffs of Moher, sea caves, sea stack and sea stumps just to name a few. Some of the best known coastal landforms of the Cliffs of Moher are the 67 meter high sea stack ‘Branaunmore’ located at the foot of the Cliffs near the O’Brien’s Tower and used to form part of the cliffs until coastal erosion gradually over time, removed the layers of rock that once joined it with the rest of the cliff and a large sea arch near Hag’s Head below the Napoleonic signal tower accompanied by a series of smaller sea arches that can be viewed from sea level.

A little bit more of the interesting things that we can come across in this section of the article..

300 million year old channels seen cutting through forming unconformities at the base of the cliffs can be spotted when visiting the Cliffs of Moher, an estimated 30,000 pairs of birds representing more than 20 species can be seen at the Cliffs at the peak of the season, these including species like the Atlantic puffins and razorbills.

Speaking of animals, a wide range of sea life can be found at the cliffs, like the grey seals, dolphins, minke whales and basin sharks to name a few with the occasional feature of the sunfish. On the soil, feral goats can be spotted among other species like foxes, badgers and the Irish hare. Various breeds of farm cattle can also be spotted.


Pop Culture

Our beloved cliffs of Moher have also made their appearance in pop culture, featured in the media and in cinema, in movies like ‘The Princess Bridge’ a movie from 1987, the ‘Leap Year’ in 2010 and possibly one of the more known movies in today’s pop culture, ‘ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ just a year earlier in 2009.

‘bringing out the Dead’ a 1999 film by Martin Scorsese also featured the Cliffs of Moher, that later were noted in a 2008 documentary the ‘Waveriders’.

In the world of Music, the cliffs have been to some extent the scene for music videos like Maroon 5’s ‘Runaway’ or ‘The Color Green’ by Rich Mullins.

Thank you for joining us on this adventure of the Cliffs of Moher. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it informative.

Next Week, we will be sharing with you, our ‘Top 10 Best Viewing Points’ on the Cliffs in our article ‘Cliffs of Moher for the Photographers’ in our ‘For the Photographers’ series.

Our previous article on ‘Mizen Head’ you may find here or in the below panel if featured.

Share with us your feedback in the comment section below, tell us what you thought of our article today and perhaps what would you like to see us write about in the future. Reach us out on our social media platforms below.

Thank you for your support, slán go fóill !!

Published by Dawid Kucharski

Would you like to know more about me? Hey!! My name is Dawid Kucharski, I'm the administrator of TodaysWanderluster and head of our team. I help with the publishing of our weekly articles and I'm also the team's Photographer. I have been building my online presence since joining on Instagram in 2015, where I picked up an interest in photography. Recently I took part in the LensCulture Street Photography competition 2020 and currently I'm working hard on improving my photography skills. Earlier in April, together with my team, I helped with launching our project 'TodaysWanderluster' and we are constantly working hard to produce amazing weekly content for you. Thank you for visiting. Check out the 'About us' page for more information.

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