Travel requires making choices based on time constraints (among other things). You simply can’t do it all. I was looking for a shortcut from the Dingle Peninsula to the Cliffs of Moher when my younger son suggested I check ferries. Shannon Ferries crosses the Shannon Estuary every hour on the half hour from Tarbert to Killimer which would save us several hours driving through Limerick. A 20 minute trip for the four of us plus the car for just €18 sounded like a bargain. That meant postponing a visit to King John’s Castle in Limerick until our next trip to Ireland but a ferry ride would be a new experience to add to our itinerary.
I’ve taken ferries before but not with a vehicle. We were fascinated watching the workers cram cars, trucks, and buses bumper to bumper onto the ship. We enjoyed the ride and I would recommend the experience. Although we didn’t see any dolphins as I had hoped and often occurs in this area, I was delighted to spot a lighthouse. I adore lighthouses and I love to photograph them.
We were only an hour’s drive from the Cliffs of Moher when we got off the ferry and arriving early in the day was a definite advantage. The Cliffs of Moher are the number one tourist attraction in Ireland attracting up to a million visitors each year. We beat most of the tour buses delivering hordes of tourists, paid our €6 admission fee, and looked around the visitor center at a leisurely pace. Then we walked up to view the Cliffs in sunshine. Many tourists report fog and rain obscuring their view so we were keenly aware of our good fortune to be there on a sunny day. The wind was fierce, however, which I understand is normal. Locals told us it’s always windy.
To give you a little perspective, the Cliffs are 700 feet tall which is the height of the ice wall on Game of Thrones. Seven hundred feet is equivalent to about a 70 story building; the St Louis Gateway Arch is 630 feet and the Eiffel Tower is 986 feet tall. The views of the Cliffs from every vantage point were breathtaking as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Built in 1835, O’Brien’s Tower stands on a headland at the north end and reportedly provides the best photo opportunities of the cliffs to the south. We decided not to pay the extra €2 to climb it but did take pictures from that area. I also took the photo below that shows the tower perched atop the headland.
In addition, I took a short video to capture the scene with an Irish melody in the background played by a busker. Busking is allowed and the music varies from day-to-day including harp, concertina, guitar, tin whistle, and flute. The roaring wind on the video will also give you a feel for our experience.
Today, there are railings and warnings to provide a measure of safety for visitors to the Cliffs of Moher. Visitors can and do go beyond the railings at their peril, however. We saw many tourists posing for photos near the edge which is very dangerous considering the powerful wind gusts that come up unexpectedly. Sadly, a number of deaths have occurred here due to either accident or suicide. While I didn’t see any reports of the number of deaths, we did see signs offering suicide prevention messages and a memorial which is a stark reminder. It says, “In memory of those who have lost their lives at the Cliffs of Moher.”
As we headed back to the parking lot, we noticed it was rapidly filling with tour buses. To avoid the crowds I suggest you arrive as early in the day as possible or late in the day. The Cliffs open at 9 am daily but closing time varies by season from 5 pm in the winter to 9 pm in the summer. Plan to spend 2-3 hours to see the visitor center and the Cliffs and longer if you walk the cliff trails. (We did not.) Also keep in mind photos are affected by the time of day and time of year you visit. On the April morning we were there, the sun was more behind the South Cliffs so the detail on the face of the Cliffs is harder to see. But whenever you go, plan to be inspired and amazed by the Cliffs of Moher.
Based on events from April, 2015