Read this travelogue on the Cliffs of Moher, located in Ireland, written by traveler Jayanthi Chandrasekaran. She covers the travel experience of Harry Potter’s famous filming location.
When we were planning our trip to Ireland, our daughter said emphatically, “A trip to the Cliffs of Moher is non-negotiable”. So our road trip from Dublin, the capital city of Ireland on the east coast, was chalked out to include the southwestern coast where the said cliffs are located. Sure enough, our daughter’s smile stretched out as wide as the Cliffs of Moher.
These ancient sea cliffs located in the Burren region in County Clare are about 3-hours drive west of Dublin and 90-minutes drive south of Galway city. The scenic west coast route called Wild Atlantic Way unfolds diverse natural wonders, ancient monuments, and magical ocean views on the way to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are named after the word ‘Mothar’ or ‘Moher’ which in old Gaelic language means ‘the ruin of a fort’. The old fort stood once on the southernmost point of the ‘cliffed’ coast known as Hag’s head where now stands Moher Tower.
The Cliffs of Moher soar above the Atlantic Ocean since 300 million years and provide breathtaking views. The Cliffs’ horizontal layers of rock called strata are made of siltstone, shale, and sandstone. Their fractured look was created due to the collisions of the tectonic plates on Earth’s crust. They reach a maximum height of 702 feet and stretch on for 14 kilometres from North to South starting from Doolin in the North and ending at Hag’s head in the South. The cliffs are home to an array of birds, land/sea animals, and marine life. The Atlantic puffins come to the shore at the cliffs from May to July for nesting.
The cliffs themselves are imposing and dramatic. There is a cliff-walk path starting at Doolin several miles long which one can do with or without a guide and it offers 360 degrees sweeping views of natural scenery from the edge. There are multiple viewing platforms to take in the spectacular view. We took a ferry from Doolin pier to view the cliffs’ face from the sea; the ferry goes to the end of the cliffs at Hag’s head and takes a U-turn to return to the starting point, thus one gets to view them twice. The Cliff-face view from the boat is different in perspective and interesting. We were fortunate to view the cliffs on a clear day and observe the bird life in some parts and people, looking very tiny, walking along the trail on top of the cliff.
Somewhere in the middle of our boat ride we came across an eerie cave on the cliff face and wondered if anyone had ever ventured into it. Later we realised that this is the cave-front shown in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, when Harry and Dumbledore land up on a rock in the midst of the angry sea in their quest to find one of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Besides Harry Potter movies, this natural wonder has been used as a backdrop in The Princess Bride, Leap Year, Father Ted, and many TV series and music videos.
After the ferry ride ended, we spent some time on the rocky shores, where the relentless waves hitting the rocks seemed to be whispering the glory of these ancient cliffs. The unique landscape in which the cliffs are sitting has intrigued scientists and geologists; their natural beauty has inspired poets, musicians, and artists for generations. All of us joined our daughter to pronounce that indeed a visit to the Cliffs of Moher is non-negotiable.