Monday, October 28, 2013

The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren Region

The Cliffs of Moher located in County Clare are one of the most popular natural landscapes in Ireland with more than a million visitors visiting each year.  The cliffs are 8km long along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and are 214m at their highest points.  The rock formation that makes up the cliffs is almost 320 million years old.  The coastal location makes the area highly susceptible to erosion and there are numerous signs warning visitors to stay inside marked paths away from unstable edges. 

The visitor centre on the site explains the historical geography of the area, explore native wildlife, and
talks about the human history on the site.  There are a couple of educational videos included in the exhibit that are worth watching for the historical images and seaside vantages of the cliffs.  The Centre itself is an interesting structure, as it is an eco-structure that is built into a hillside.  It reminded me of a large hobbit house. 

Despite being late in the season the Cliffs were still one of the busiest sites we visited during our trip. It was also extremely windy and a bit on a chilly side.  However, it was also a clear day so you could see a number of the surrounding bays and islands.  The views of the rocky shore are wonderful however it is worth taking a longer walk on one of the walking paths to get away from the masses of people.  There is also an free audio-tour app that visitors can download (there is free wifi at the main visitors centre) that describes the landscape. 
Burren in the distance.

Following my visit to the Cliffs of Moher we drove through the Burren region to reach Galway.  The change in landscape was remarkable in this region.  The vibrant greens that had been almost everywhere were replaced by vast areas of limestone rock that is devoid of soil coverage. This area is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe.  The views on this portion of the drive were unusual and memorable in their distinctive appearance.

Photographs by Andrew Mackay

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