For a long time, The West of Ireland has been a well-known holiday destination for foreign and Irish tourists alike. And, although popular, it had nowhere near the numbers enjoyed by Dublin in the East or Belfast in the North of Ireland.
But then the term ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ was born.
Marketing Strategists with the Irish Tourist board came up with the phrase, and now it is so widely known it is hard to believe it hasn’t been around forever.
Bord Failte got involved … a few signs were put up along the way (no pun intended), and Bam! Tourist numbers soared.
‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ stretches from Donegal in the North down to Cork in the South and is a very impressive 2,500 km long. By far, the biggest winner on ‘The Way’ has been The Cliffs of Moher.
As you drive out of the Coneamara Coastline through South Galway, the next County you will meet on ‘The Way’ is Co Clare.
Some (or many really) consider this County to be the home of Irish Traditional Music.
The physical landscape also boasts many attractions, including The Ailwee caves in Ballyvaughan and the Burren.
Further west, you pass through Lisdoonvarna, home to superb matchmaking and music festivals, then if you take the coast road to Doolin and next stop the Cliffs.
At the peak of 2018, there were an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, with upwards of 140 buses a day making their way to this spectacular tourist attraction. How the drivers managed those windy roads, I’ll never know!
What you first notice on your arrival is that you don’t really see the Cliffs at all initially, just vast car parks.
Then you are directed to the visitor center, which is tastefully designed with a good-sized restaurant and various souvenir shops.
Make sure you are dressed for the elements because it can suddenly turn wet and windy, even on a Summer’s day! After you have got your bearings, it’s a 5-minute stroll slightly uphill..you might be lucky enough to hear the Cliffs of Moher Jig being played by a live performer.
As you reach the cliff top, the wind picks up, so if you are like me, slightly queazy ..steady yourself. It is a 700 ft drop to the Atlantic Ocean below, and the Cliffs are literally vertical! So you really do get the sense you are standing on the edge of the Western World!
There is a trail along the cliff edge, which will give you spectacular 360 views. Don’t worry, though; this trail is protected by large sheets of Limestone.
As you keep moving upwards, you will see O’Brien’s tower ahead. This was built over 150 years by the local landlord and gives you great views to the North and the South. The official trails are well laid out. If you keep walking south for about 5 minutes, you will be on unofficial trails (still safe!). Here, you will probably find the best views. If you are fortunate enough to be visiting on a clear sunny day, you will see Inis Oir. About six miles to the west (but that’s for another day!).
To really get the most out of your trip, I recommend spending 2 to 3 hours here, and don’t forget to stay safe and hold on to each other!!
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