This is the fifth installment in the Ireland Series about studying abroad in Galway, Ireland. Read Part I here.
FIVE MILES along the southwestern coast of County Clare rises a stunning stack of bluffs over the ocean: the famous Cliffs of Moher. Shale and sandstone pile on top of one another like a perilous Jenga game, and the result is dramatic overhangs and hollowed-out caves along a three million-year-old river bed. They tower 390 feet (120 meters), and at their tallest 702 feet (214 meters) toward the north by O’Brien’s Tower. Princess Bride or Harry Potter Movie #6 Fans? You no doubt remember these cliffs making a memorable performance.
The Cliffs are about an hour and a half to the south of Galway in County Clare. Bus Éireann Route #350 travels there after making stops in Galway and the surrounding towns. We took a day-long tour there via Arcadia University, and pulled into a large parking lot complete with a Visitor’s Center. Children under 16 are free, students and seniors are 4 euros, and adults are 6 euros. The Cliffs of Moher Information Office also offers deals that include transportation and ticket. There is also a fee to enter O’Brien’s Tower, a popular look-out point for photographers (Adult 2; Child 1 euro). Refreshments, mini museums, souvenir shops, and picnic tables are available in and around the Visitor’s Center. I include the main Information Office website at the bottom of this page.
For our group, we were content just meandering along the path and snapping photos. The Cliffs stretch around 5 miles down the coastline. There are always new parts of the Cliffs that will capture your attention, and lighting at the different times of day also adds another unique aspect. If you’re a big hiker, you might make it as far as the puffin colony. There’s also a surf spot here, Aill Na Searrachor, or its nickname, “Aileen’s.” Jet Ski tow is recommended, since the waves can reach up to 30 feet, but real pro surfers have been known to paddle out, too. I’d be too busy gazing at a bottom-up view of the cliffs to pay attention to the waves!
Our daredevil stunts mostly consisted of taking dramatic poses on the precarious outcrops. Warning signs are posted everywhere around unstable rock, but tourists from around the world pretty much ignored them. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend time on the Cliffs seemed to bring out taking once-in-a-lifetime photo opps, too.
We only spent around two hours at the Cliffs, not nearly enough time if planning to take the hike down to Hag’s Head and out to Liscannor Village. The Cliffs Coastal Trail stretches about 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) and takes around 3 hours. I’d recommend an independent adventure to pencil this gorgeous cliff-side walk in, and make sure to bring gear for blustery winds and rains.
When we arrived back in Galway, I found a new email waiting for me. My uncle had arrived to help paint his friend’s place in Sligo, and he’d invited me up for a visit. I’d been looking forward to meeting his “Irish family” for some time now, so I heartily agreed! But first, there was an upcoming trip to Cork to look forward to.
To be continued…
Disclaimer: The above is presented as fiction, not fact.
“Cliffs of Moher,” Cliffs of Moher Information Office, accessed July 25, 2014, http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/.
“Cliffs of Moher,” Wikipedia Foundation, July 15, 2014, accessed July 25, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliffs_of_Moher.