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Musings Abroad: Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher

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The Cliffs of Moher just before a rainstorm (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

“Remember, this isn’t Disney,” said our tour guide as we stepped off the bus.

We had just arrived at The Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s world famous treasures. From our guide, I had gathered several facts about the destination:

  1. The cliffs are over 700 feet tall
  2. Each year The Cliffs of Moher receives about 1 million visitors (Ireland has a population of ~4.5 million)

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    A viewing area warns visitors of the cliffs, although there are muddy walking areas alongside the cliff where visitors can walk (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).
  3. The Cliffs of Moher took a different name once…The Cliffs of Insanity from the movie The Princess Bride. It was also a filming location for Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince.
  4. The rain, which is frequent, almost has an acidic quality for the cliffs.

In other words, don’t stand too close to the edge. Our tour guide had made this a strong point. Sure enough, the edges were irregular from erosion and surrounded by mud. The winds I had expected, hence my reason for wearing 5 layers of clothing, so it didn’t take away from the overall experience.

However, I didn’t expect to see such a striking view. The Cliffs of Moher has a classic Irish beauty, from the wild winds and sea to the deep greens and distant rainbows. My description may sound sensationalist or even melodramatic, but The Cliffs of Moher are famous for a reason. At times the trek around the cliffs felt a bit dangerous, but it was worth it. In the 2 hours that we had, my friends and I hiked as far as we could. At one point, the wind was so strong we could lean into it (which wasn’t bad for pictures).

The Cliffs of Moher doesn’t come without its own history. The Spanish Armada, which was returning from an unsuccessful invasion of England, met a fatal end here. The place has also inspired legends of mermaids and witches. One legend tells of The Lost City of Kilstiffen, which fell to the sea when its chieftain lost a golden key in a battle. Legend had it that the key opened a gorgeous castle and the city will not be restored until the key is rightfully returned. The city’s roofs were covered in gold, so some may say they can still catch a glimpse of the city from under the waves.

So, when describing The Cliffs of Moher, it can perhaps best be described as tragically beautiful.

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When the waves hit the base of the cliffs, combined with the consistent rainfall and wind, sections will collapse into the sea. This can create sea caves, such as the one featured in the movie Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

 

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