Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

March 17, 2008

031708 copy

Provided and copyright by: Rob Bruner, NOAA
Summary author: Rob Bruner 

The Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare, Ireland, rise up to 702 feet (214 m) above the Atlantic Ocean and run for 5 miles (8 km) along Ireland's western coast. These scenic cliffs are composed of sandstone and shale, which may be 300 million years old. Over 25 species of birds make the cracks and crevices of the Cliffs of Moher home, including the fabled Atlantic Puffin, a seabird in the Auk family. Puffins, who spend their winters far out at sea, usually arrive at the cliffs in early April and stay through the summer.

On clear days, the Aran Islands, located about 5 miles (8 km) west of the cliffs, can be seen in the distance. Inisheer, the smallest of the three Aran Islands, is visible in the photo. The stone tower at the top of the cliff is called O'Brien's tower and was built in 1835. While up and down the western coast of Ireland there were numerous such structures built as part of an observation system to protect the people from seaborne attacks, this tower was built solely for the purpose of tourism. Even in the early 1800's, the Cliffs of Moher were a popular tourist attraction. Sir Cornelius O'Brien, Irish M. P., landlord and developer, built the tower so that tourists to the cliffs would have a better view.