© RicardMN Photography
The Cliffs of Moher. Looking north towards O’Brien’s Tower
The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair) are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres to the north. The tower is a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien. From the cliffs and from atop the tower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south.
The cliffs take their name from an old fort called Moher that once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs. The writer Thomas Johnson Westropp referred to it in 1905 as Moher Ui Ruis or Moher Ui Ruidhin. The fort still stood in 1780 and is mentioned in an account from John Lloyd’s a Short Tour Of Clare (1780). It was demolished in 1808 to provide material for a new telegraph tower. The present tower near the site of the old Moher Ui Ruidhin was built as a lookout tower during the Napoleonic wars.
The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous media. In cinema, the cliffs have appeared in several films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for “The Cliffs of Insanity”), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Leap Year (2010). The cliffs are mentioned in the Martin Scorsese film Bringing Out the Dead (1999), and are noted in the 2008 documentary Waveriders as the location of a large surfing wave known as “Aileens”.
In music, the cliffs have appeared in music videos, including Maroon 5’s “Runaway” video, Westlife’s “My Love”, and Rich Mullins’ “The Color Green”. Most of singer Dusty Springfield’s ashes were scattered at the cliffs by her brother, Tom.
In television, the cliffs appear in the episodes of Father Ted called “Tentacles of Doom” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading” (1996).
In literature, the cliffs are an important location in Eoin Colfer’s The Wish List, as one of Lowrie’s wishes is spitting off the Cliffs of Moher.
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