As an Irish girl born and bred, I thought it was only right for me to write a blog post on 16 interesting facts about the Cliffs of Moher. Sure, they are our leading tourist attractions after all.
The cliffs are visited by over 1.5 million people each year, all hoping to catch a glimpse of their breath-taking beauty, iconic views, and maybe even witness some of the local wildlife.
And while the cliffs are famous, there are a handful of facts many people don’t know about them. So, let’s dive in!
6 Lesser-Known Cliffs of Moher Facts
Let’s kick off this post with some lesser-known Cliffs of Moher facts. Most people will presume there is not much to this leading attraction other than their striking beauty. However, as with anything in life, there is more than meets the eye. And with the Cliffs of Moher being one of the most popular stops on any Ireland itinerary it is important to know as much as possible before your visit.
1. You don’t HAVE to pay into the Cliffs of Moher
One thing that most tourists are not aware of is that you don’t actually have to pay for the Cliffs of Moher. Viewing the cliffs themselves is actually FREE, but it’s not as easy as it seems.
You see, the visitor centre is located on a small country road, with the only place to park your car being in their designated (paid) car park.
So, in order to see the cliffs for free, you will need to walk from the nearby town of Doolin. This walk takes anywhere from one and a half to two hours to complete. And it is home to some breathtaking views of Ireland’s coastline. You will have to opt into walking back or hop in a taxi.
Now, if this is your first time seeing the cliffs I do recommend actually paying for the visitor’s experience. The centre is really informative and provides you with a rundown of the cliffs and their history. Plus, you get to skip out on that two-hour walk. Oh, and use the bathrooms!
2. They are NOT the highest cliffs in Ireland
Another thing that may surprise you is that the Cliffs of Moher are not the highest cliffs in Ireland. And they’re far from it.
Many people presume that due to the cliffs popularity, they must be the tallest in the country, but that record is held by Croaghaun Cliffs on Achill Island.
Croaghaun soars 688 m above the Atlantic Ocean, towering over the Cliffs of Moher’s maximum height of 214m.
But, it’s not so easy to reach Croaghaun unless you would like to take a hike.
So, the next largest cliffs are Slieve League in County Donegal, these beauties rise to a whopping 601m. Making them three times larger than the Cliffs of Moher.
3. The Cliffs are NOT Ireland’s top tourist attraction
When it comes to facts about the Cliffs of Moher, this one is probably the most surprising, but they are not Ireland’s top tourist attraction.
That title belongs to the Guinness Storehouse in Cliffs, which boasts over 1.7 million visitors per year compared to the cliffs’ 1.5 million.
So, while both attractions are close, Guinness takes the crown.
4. The visitor centre was carved into the hillside
The Cliffs of Moher gives off a man-made cave-like appeal. Let me explian 🤣
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center is a beautiful building that was carefully carved into the hillside to blend in with its natural surroundings.
When it opened to the public in 2007, this eco-friendly building was made to have as little effect as possible on its beautiful surroundings.
The center has many displays and hands-on activities that help people learn about the Cliffs’ geology, history, and folklore. It also has a café for drinks, a gift shop for souvenirs, and a large outdoor viewing platform for taking pictures of the beautiful scenery.
5. O’Brien Tower was built for tourism reasons
What many people may not be aware of, is the O’Brien’s Tower was built for tourism purposes in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien, an Irish politician.
The tower was originally a lookout point for the Victorian tourists who visited the Cliffs in the 1800s.
As an Irish person, I was surprised to find this fact. I would have thought that the tower was there long before the cliffs became an attraction.
Nowadays, visitors can climb to the top of the tower for a small fee and take in even more stunning views of the cliffs and surrounding landscape.
6. The cliffs were featured in the 2009 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
Did you know that in 2009, the Red Bull World Dive Championships were held at the Cliffs of Moher?
This event brought a group of brave divers from around the world to perform some breathtaking dives from platforms jotting out from the cliffs.
This event not only drew attention to the sheer height and beauty of the cliffs themselves, but it also showcased the area’s potential as a location for extreme sports.
8 Must-Know Facts About the Cliffs of Moher
Next, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the Cliffs of Moher that you should know before you visit! These facts are sure to impress whomever you are travelling Ireland with 😉
7. The Cliffs of Moher are NOT in Galway
Many people confuse the location of the Cliffs, presuming that they are in Galway, which is a nearby city.
However, the Cliffs of Moher are actually located in County Clare, making it one of the most visited natural attractions in the county.
However, with that being said, it is quite easy to visit the Cliffs of Moher from Galway by car, tour, or public transportation.
8. They are longer than you might think
Most of the people visiting the Cliffs of Moher do not explore beyond the visitor center, but these mighty cliffs stretch for 14 kilometers along the Atlantic coast.
The highest point reaches an impressive 214 meters (702 ft) above sea level. And the walk from the top to the bottom takes about 4.5 hours to complete.
9. They are OLD. Like REALLY old.
It’s mad to think that the attractions we know today are so much older than what we might expect!
The Cliffs of Moher have a rich history, and it is estimated that they date back over 320 million years.
They were formed from deposits of sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone, siltstone, and shale, that accumulated on the ocean floor during the Carboniferous period.
Which eventually led to the Cliffs of Moher being carved away by wind and sea, shaping them into what we see today.
10. You can see the cliffs from the sea
One of my favourite ways to see the Cliffs is actually not from the land. It is in fact, by boat.
Regular tours are offered from Doolin, where visitors can get up close and personal with the cliffs and see them from a whole new perspective.
This is also the perfect opportunity to spot some of the over 20 species of birds that call the cliffs home, including puffins, razorbills, and guillemots.
It’s a unique experience that allows you to fully appreciate the magnificent scale and beauty of this natural wonder.
Oh! and you can make a day out of it by getting a combo ticket to visit the Aran Islands on the same tour.
11. You can see puffin’s at the Cliffs of Moher
Ok, this is a fact I had to include because puffins are one of my FAVOURITE birds of all time. They are just so freaking cute 😍
The Cliffs of Moher are a common place to spot these adorable seabirds, so keep your eyes peeled when you visit! The best time to see them is between April and July, when they are nesting on the cliffs.
You may also come across other feathered friends like razorbills, guillemots, and kittiwakes. The cliffs are home to the largest mainland seabird nesting colony in Ireland, with over 30,000 birds!
12. The Cliffs have Hollywood-level fame
The Cliffs of Moher have made their mark in the world of cinema, appearing in numerous Hollywood blockbusters.
The dramatic landscape has served as a backdrop in the iconic 1987 fantasy film “The Princess Bride,” where it doubled as the mythical “Cliffs of Insanity.”
Harry Potter fans might recognize the cliffs from “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” where they were used to depict the exterior of the Horcrux cave.
Other notable appearances include the 1997 blockbuster “Into the West” and the classic 1966 film “The Mackintosh Man.”
13. Some of the cliff edges can recede up to 1.2 meters in a single year due to erosion
A sad fact about the cliffs of Moher is that they are constantly eroding. The soft shale and sandstone composition of the cliffs makes them vulnerable to erosion by wind, rain, and sea. In some areas, the edges can recede up to 1.2 meters in a single year.
As the cliffs lose height and material over time, it is important to enjoy them responsibly and follow all safety guidelines when visiting.
It’s also an interesting fact, as the appearance of the Cliffs is constantly changing, meaning they may not look the same in a few years time.
14. They are not the only cliffs in Ireland
Some of which remain quite a hidden gem compared to the level of visitors the Cliffs of Moher receive each year.
These cliffs may not be as famous or well-known as the Cliffs of Moher, but they still offer stunning views and unique experiences for those who make the effort to visit them.
15. Cliffs of Moher Meaning in Irish
Like all attractions in Ireland, the cliffs name is an English version of what it was once known as in the Irish Language.
The name of the Cliffs comes from a broken-down fort on an outcrop of rock called “Mothar.” It was destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s to make room for a signal tower at Hag’s Head. The old Irish word “Mothar” means “the broken down fort.”
Cliffs of Moher Facts: Myths and Ledgends
Much like many tourist attractions in Ireland, such as the Giants Causeway and New Grange. The Cliffs of Moher are subject to Irish Myths and Ledgend.
The Folklore says that the cliffs are home to magical and unearthly creatures.
The amazing Cliffs of Moher are already magical, but these interesting myths and legends make them even more so.
They capture the imagination and leave visitors with a sense of mystery and awe.
Below are some of my favourite stories that are said to have happened at the cliffs.
Legend 1: The Witch’s Unrequited Love
First, let take a look at the “The Witch’s Unrequited Love”.
Legend has it that a witch named Mal fell in love with Cú Chulainn a brave warrior.
But Cú Chulainn did not feel the same way about her but Mal refused to give up and kept chasing him all over Ireland.
They finally got to the Cliffs of Moher, where Cú Chulainn jumped onto an island called Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock.
Mal tried to jump to the island too, however, trying to get away Cú Chulainn quickly jumped back to the shore.
However, as Mal tried to follow once again, she missed and crashed into the rocks below.
Her blood stained the bay, which is why some people think it was named after her and is now called Malbay. Miltown Malbay is the name it has now.
People say that the rocks, which are now called Hag’s Head, have Mal’s face carved into them forever, which serves as a memory of the story to this day.
Legend 2: Mermaid of Moher
In the story of the Mermaid of Moher, a fisherman accidentally caught a mermaid while throwing his line near the Cliffs of Moher.
The Mermaid has used a cloak as a way of getting back to the sea. The fisher man was intrigued by this and rudely stole the cape.
The mermaid followed the man to his home because she was desperate to get her cloak back and go back to her home in the ocean.
But, even though she looked everywhere, she couldn’t find the coat. Because she had no other choice, the mermaid agreed to marry the man. They had a son and a daughter together. Still, the mermaid kept wishing for her lost cloak.
After many years, the mermaid found the secret robe one day while the man was at sea. As soon as she saw the chance to get her freedom back, she ran back to the sea and disappeared.
The man and their children would never see her again; they would always remember the mermaid who swam away.
These are two of the four legends known from the Cliffs of Moher. If you would like to find out more I reccomend checking out the offical site.
Where to Stay When Visiting the Cliffs of Moher
When visiting the Cliffs of Moher there are three main places people tend to stay, Galway, Dublin or Dublin.
If you have a car or are willing to walk then I highly reccomend Doolin as a spot to spend the night. Doolin is a small village with many Bed and Breakfasts, as well as pubs where you can hear tranditional Irish music in the evening. It is also close to the Cliffs of Moher, making it an ideal location for those wanting to explore the cliffs at sunrise or sunset.
If you prefer staying in a bigger city, Galway and Dublin both offer a variety of accommodations.
Galway is much closer to the Cliffs, and offers a range of things to do, from checking out the cities attractions, live music scene and trendy restaurants (make sure to check out my Ireland tipping guide before making a reservation. Galway is also the perfect base for those interested in exploring the nearby Connemara National park.
I would only recommend staying in Dublin if you are really stuck for time. Staying in Dublin can be rather expensive, however, there are many day trip options from the city but they can feel quite rushed if I am being honest.
Where to stay in Doolin:
The Oar restaurant and Rooms offers a cozy and affordable option for travelers. Known for its warm, welcoming atmosphere and comfortable rooms, it also features a highly-rated restaurant, making it a perfect place for food lovers who want to explore local cuisine.
Lanelodge Doolin is a mid-range accommodation option. It is renowned for its friendly staff and homey ambiance, with bright, comfortable rooms. Its location offers an easy starting point for exploring both the Cliffs and the nearby town.
For those seeking a more luxurious stay, the Doolin Inn is a top-rated choice. The Inn is known for its luxury amenities, beautiful views, and excellent service. It’s a superb choice for those looking to indulge while taking in the natural wonders of the area.
Where to stay in Galway:
For luxury seekers, the Galmont Hotel & Spa is an exceptional option. Perched on the edge of Lough Atalia, this high-end hotel offers stunning waterfront views and refined accommodations. Indulge in relaxation at the on-site spa or dine in the hotel’s gourmet restaurant for an unforgettable culinary experience.
Perfect for mid-range travelers, the Park House Hotel combines superb service with a central location. It’s a stone’s throw away from Galway’s bustling city center, putting you within easy reach of shops, restaurants, and cultural landmarks. This hotel’s warm hospitality and comfortable rooms make it a popular choice.
For budget-conscious explorers, the Snoozles Tourist Hostel offers a fantastic balance of comfort and affordability. Despite its lower price point, guests can expect clean rooms, friendly staff, and a convenient location. It’s an ideal base for those looking to experience Galway’s vibrant city life without breaking the bank.