Please see below information about the cliffs, legends, the seabirds, cruise and general information about the Cliffs of Moher.
The Legend of Hags Head
At the southern point of the cliffs, near the ruins of the signal tower there an unusual rock formation known as Hags Head. In Irish, this is called “Ceann an tSean Chailligh” or “Head of the Old Sea Witch”.
Irish legend tells the story of an old hag called Mal who fell in love with the great Irish hero, Cú Chulainn. Sadly for her, Cú Chulainn did not return her feelings and in fact, he ran all over Ireland trying to get away from her! He finally escaped by jumping back to the Cliffs of Moher using the sea stacks as stepping stones (as only a legendary Irish hero could..)
Mal tried to follow him but she was not as nimble on her feet – she missed her footing and fell to her death at Hags Head where her blood is said to have stained all the sea.
The town of Miltown Malbay was named for her and the “Wave” at Loop Head was also called after her “Tonn Mhal,”. This wave was said to raise a voice of unutterable anguish, foretelling death and disaster.
So… poor Mal definitely left her mark on the area if not on her man!
Aill na Searrach
Legend has it that when St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland there was anger amongst the Tuatha Dé Danann, who were Ireland’s ancient tribe of magical rulers.
They magically turned themselves into horses and galloped to Kilcornan in the Burren where they hid out in the Kilcornan Caves (‘the Cavern of the Wild Horses’). One day 7 foals emerged from the caves. They were terrified by the bright light of day and galloped along the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in fear.
Sadly they galloped straight over the cliffs at the point now known as Aillenasharragh – ‘the Leap of the Foals’.
Today Aillenasharragh has become legendary once more as a mecca for surfers; only the hardcore surfers can catch the “Aileen”!
The cliffs have been designated as a Special Area of Conservation by the EU and they are home to about 30,000 sea birds.
The most famous visitors to the cliffs are the Atlantic Puffins. This small comical bird with its black and white evening suit and colourful bill is sometimes called the sea parrot.
The main colony can be seen at Goat Island, close to O’Brien’s Tower just under the first viewing point. There are smaller colonies on the grassy summits to the north and south of this area.
The area is also internationally important for breeding Razorbills. Other species include Fulmar, Gannets, Guillemots and Kittiwakes.
For a fascinating insight on the seabirds and nature at the Cliffs of Moher, we highly recommend following Murfs Wildlife blog.
Of course, we have a strong connection with the Puffins at the Cliffs of Moher, as it was the birthplace of our very own Paddy the Puffin … To learn more about Paddy, visit his blog!
- Cruise Information
The Cliffs of Moher cruise is a spectacular journey below these world famous cliffs which tower over 700ft above the sea. For more information on the cliffs, see our Cliffs of Moher section.
- 50 minutes approx.
- The Cliffs of Moher Cruises is around trip voyage from Doolin back to Doolin.
- The ships are large vessels and perfectly safe and accessible for all ages from small babies to more mature adults.
- Our captain and crew are fully trained professional seamen. YOUR SAFETY IS OUR NO.1 PRIORITY
- Boarding our ships is done via a short gangway which has grip rails either side.
- Wheelchair passengers can be accommodated when conditions are favourable, each passenger is assessed on a case by case basis (eg we cannot take motorised wheelchairs)
- There is no requirement to wear life jackets on board, due to the size of the vessels, but of course they are available should they be required in an emergency.
- General Information
The Cliffs of Moher are the crowning glory of the Clare coastline. Like a viewing platform for prehistoric giants who wish to peer over the edge of Europe, the cliffs provide an unrivaled view across the vast boiling wildness of the Atlantic Ocean, a world unchanged since the pre-Celtic masters of magic, the Tuatha Dé Danann ruled Ireland.
They form a continuous rocky wall, perpendicular or overhanging, for 8km, varying in height from 407 to 700 feet/ 124m to 214m, broken into the most fantastic forms and tunneled into innumerable caves by the action of the waves.
The highest point is at Knockardin, near O’Brien’s Tower, which is 214m from sea level. The views from here are breath-taking:
- Looking west, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay
- Looking north, you see the Twelve Pins and the Maam Turk Mountains in Connemara
- Looking south you can see Loop Head and beyond to the Kerry mountains