Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Haunting Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)

On Ireland’s national day celebrating the life of Saint Patrick the world paints itself in emerald green. This most vibrant green matches the incredibly rich and lush countryside of Ireland. However my most abiding memory of Ireland (outside of the famed hospitality) are the haunting Cliffs of Moher.

The lady running the quaint bed and breakfast promised spectacular sunshine. Go and see the Cliffs today, it’s so clear that you’ll see North America she gasped excitedly in her lilting, choral voice. Her generous spirit made her an ideal accommodation manager but she rarely stopped for breath, talking incessantly about Irish tales, past guests, the beauty of the local area and the cold of the winters.

Among her extraordinary gifts, weather forecasting is not one. Almost on completing the sentence, a thick syrupy fog rolled in making seeing the tiny Aran Islands (less than 10 kilometres offshore) unlikely, let alone North America.

Even shrouded in mist, the Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking. The sheer rock face of layered black shale give a dark, foreboding spirit, the savage North Atlantic beating incessantly into the rocky walls below. The coastline runs as if crinkle-cut, the silhouetted headlands merging into the murky greyness. The gusting ocean winds whistle their dominant tunes through the narrow inlets adding to the ghostly setting.

Photos on a clear day show this wild coastline running for miles, the enveloping haze on this overcast day giving an endless feel to this inspiring landscape. Small seabirds dart skilfully in the powerful gusts towards their nests perched precariously on narrow ledges.

Little yellow warning signs demonstrating people slipping to a watery grave symbolically remind people to be careful near the unprotected slippery edges. Reports indicate the strong winds, blowing unsuspecting visitors from the cliff, along with errant video takers engaged with their viewfinder taking a step too far.

O’Brien’s Tower, enterprisingly built like a medieval castle, but constructed as a lookout two hundred years ago, stands isolated, a journey to its top deck pointless in the grisly weather.

As the world bathes in emerald on Ireland’s day of pride, seek out the naturally stunning Cliffs of Moher and the harsh beauty of nature. While sunshine is typically ideal for panoramic vistas, in many ways, the murky greyness of an Irish fog is more suited to this wild western coastline.

Photo Credit: Clear Day

Other Irish and British Posts
The Illuminated Manuscript (Dublin)
A Bit of British (Gibraltar)
Soaking Up Culture (Bath)
Naval Riches (Portsmouth)
All The World's a Stage (Stratford-upon-Avon)


Joya said...

This was such a beautiful post. I love all of your descriptions and it takes me back to when I visited the cliffs exactly two years ago. Thanks for sharing!

Sherry Ott said...

The fog seems fitting - it's exactly how I imagine Ireland! I loved your 'crinkle cut' description of the coast - I'm imagining it as a giant potato chip!
Lovely post Mark!

Donna Hull said...

Your photos add to the mystical qualities of this post. Your writing has encouraged me to visit this part of Ireland.

kerry dexter said...

lovely photos, Mark. I often find quite a bit of fog on the north and east coasts as well, and the result often just as mystical

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

When we were there two years ago, we drove on past The Cliffs of Moher, having seen them from the boat to the Aran Islands.It was a foggy day and also perfect for walking in the Burren. But some day I'd like to go back to the Cliffs of Moher.

Mark H said...

@joya: Waht wonderful memories

@sherry: The fog does suit this foreboding environment

@donna: Thank you

@kerry: Fog adds a wondeful mystery to things

@vera: I hope to return to Ireland too, my only visit far too short for this wonderfully friendly country.

Cecil Lee said...

What a mist! It made the Cliff Moher more haunting looking to me...

Mark H said...

@cecil: It was very misty the day that I was there. I think that is a pretty regular occurrence.

Gourmantic said...

Beautiful post. I haven't been to Ireland but, your lyrical descriptions take me there.

I look forward to reading more of your posts :)

Heather on her travels said...

As you say, it's all very misty and mysterious. I think that's what they call a 'soft' day in Ireland?

Mark H said...

@gourmantic: Thank you. I love your pen name too.

@heather: "Soft" is an excellent description - a kind of velvety weather?

Lifecruiser Travel Blog said...

Wonderful! We have special memories from when we were there too. Perhaps I ought to write something about them... ah, well, one day :-)

Mark H said...

@lifecruiser: I'd love to read your impressions of this haunting location.

BarbaraW said...

I love shooting photos in the fog. Gives a place a completely different feel - mysterious and foreboding. And Ireland is definitely n my list of places to see, although I understand it is an expensive destination these days.

Mark H said...

@barbara: The fog does add a different quality to the photos. I've rarely shot in fog but it looks a good chance to do more.

JohnM2205 said...

One of the photograph used in this blog was from my Flickr account and were taken in 2009 whilst on a holiday with my wife. We had a wonderful 3 weeks if your would like to see more then go to
I hope this works

Mark H said...

@john: John's creative commons photo showed the Cliffs on a nice weather day and shows the difference in the mood and vistas of the place.

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