Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That's Moher Like It

Exploring southwestern Ireland's spectacular Cliffs of Moher 

The Cliffs of Moher are a little bit like Ireland's Eiffel Tower. They're the iconic vista splashed across tourism books, over-saturated and reprinted until you'd think the sight of them in real life might actually be slightly disappointing. Well, it's not.

Located off of Galway bay, in southwestern Ireland's County Clare, the cliffs rise majestically out of the sea, reaching some 700 feet high at their tallest point, a vertical of striated sandstone and shale separating green fields from clear blue water.  The massive rock face contains striation dating back to 300 million years ago, rivers and wildlife compressed by glacial rock.

The Cliffs' official website quaintly claims that the country's most visited natural attraction "captures the hearts of up to one million visitors every year." While I suppose it'll have to battle San Francisco for the claim to most lost/stolen hearts, the site is truly one of the most breathtaking in the world.

Thankfully, the lack of overzealous security, alarming to any American but quite common in any country besides our enthusiastically litigious one, allows for an unprecedented view of the Irish coastline. While old stone walls protect a fort, built during the Napoleonic wars, the majority of the coastline is largely open, and, while a stroll along the bare cliffs is slightly terrifying (especially in the 50mph winds on our day there), it is equally as awe-inspiring.

My father recalled visiting the same site some 30 years ago, before it had been turned into an official tourist attraction. While it does now play host to busloads of tourists each day, and charge an entry fee, the site has remained, for the most part, largely unblemished by this commercialization. The requisite gift shops and tourist amenities have been cleverly built into the hillside, camouflaging them to the undiscerning

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