You have most likely seen the Cliffs of Moher in a movie before. The cliffs make an impressive setting for drama due to the sheer deep drop from the top to the rocks and water below. In some places that drop is over 700 feet. The cliffs were featured in Harry Potter movies. Remember the scene when Dumbledore takes Harry to the cave to hunt for horcruxes? How about the Princess Bride movie? In that movie they’re called “The Cliffs of Insanity”.
The cliffs are on the southwest coast of Ireland in County Clare. They were formed as a part of a giant river delta about 320 million years ago during the Carboniferous geological period. The Carboniferous period lasted approximately 60 million years and is a period in which coal beds were formed. Life on the planet at this time was very different. Amphibians, cold blooded animals that live in water and on land, were the primary living creatures at that time. The high oxygen percentage (35%) in the air during that time contributed to the great size of some of those Amphibians. (We have normal oxygen percentage of 21% today). These amphibians weren’t the dinosaurs. They came later. Remember the post about snakes? One of the reasons Ireland doesn’t have snakes is because they are cold blooded. How is it that Amphibians, a cold blooded animal, could live here during that time and not now? The answer is climate change that occurred many millions of years ago. As you stand on the cliffs and marvel at the beauty, remember that creatures very much different from ourselves once roamed the area, a landscape changing into the cliffs we see today.
The areas visited by tourists are frequently busy. People view them from below by taking a boat tour. We would go by land because I would want to see that awesome view from the cliff tops. We must be careful along the cliffs because there aren’t fences or railings to keep us from falling off. Warnings are posted and it is best we keep to the designated paths. High winds can surprise a person in this area so we should stay away from the edges.
There are many different types of birds that live along the Cliffs of Moher. Visitors are asked to avoid interfering with their nests. Take a look at this video to see a Puffin. This video was not made on the cliffs but I really like the way they describe the Puffins. The Guillemot is another type of bird that lives at the cliffs. This is a very short video that shows these birds fishing. Watch how deep they go underwater as they fish. Would you say they are swimming? Here is video showing a Fulmar (bird) flying and negotiating the wind. When I watch this I have a deeper respect for the wind at this location.
The cliffs derive their name from a promontory fort called Mothar or Moher that once stood along cliffs. There is a tower built by a local land lord named O’Brien. It was built as a watch tower in the 1800s and was meant to give tourists a place to get a better view. Another tower on the cliffs is called Hagg’s head tower. It was built as a signal tower. Hagg’s head was actually named after a rock formation. Can you see a witch’s face?
The cliffs are constantly changing. The winds, animals, and water all have an effect on the landscape. Branaunmore rock stands off the coast and can be seen from the cliffs. It is a sea stack or erosion resistant piece of land. It won’t be able to resist forever though and will some day crumble into the sea.
You may take a virtual tour of the Center at the Cliffs at this site.