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Great Famine Memorial
Treasures of Ireland:
The Cliffs of Moher
(Dispatch #13)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

road sign along the Wild Atlantic Way

he's the longest coastal driving route in all of Europe, snaking 2,500 km (1,500 mi) around, through and over jagged-rock defenses that do battle against the powerful Atlantic Ocean along Ireland's rugged and majestic western seaboard. Meet the epic Wild Atlantic Way, the adventurous, sign-posted serpentine route dotted with killer views and iconic locales like the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula and, our next stop, the Cliffs of Moher.

Big Mike

As our intrepid "band of merry media" – 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations to experience a portion of its Treasures of Ireland itinerary – prepares to disembark from the motor coach, Big Mike, our larger-than-life tour director cautions us, "It's windy out today, so, whatever you do, DO NOT get too close to the edge."

The self-proclaimed Liam Neeson-lookalike adds, "In all the years that I've been doing this, I've yet to have a member of my group blown over the side of the cliffs."

Big Mike concludes, with a stare that could stop a Mack truck, "Understood?"

Cliffs of Moher sign

With only an hour on the clock, we clamber off the motor coach and scatter in all directions, clutching our cameras and holding onto our hats. Big Mike's right, it is WINDY out here.

One of Ireland's most-visited natural attractions – 1 million+ guests per year – the Cliffs of Moher, named after the eponymous fort that once stood atop the rugged terrain, is a towering 8 km (4.8 mi) stretch, as the crow flies, of steep rock faces overlooking the deep-blue Atlantic in Co. Clare.

anoramic view of the Cliffs of Moher

Bypassing the award-winning, environmentally friendly visitor center carved into the hillside, I head straight for O'Brien's Tower, a former 19th century, round stone observation post.

O'Brien's Tower at Knockardakin

From here, I've got the perfect vantage spot to capture both Hags Head to the south and Knockardakin, the cliff's highest point (702 ft.), to the north, with my lens.

views of the Cliffs of Moher

Pardon the cliché, but standing on the Cliffs of Moher and looking out to sea just takes your breath away (read, hyperventilate) and also makes your knees knock a bit, especially if you get too close to the edge. Hey, you only live once, right?

cattle herd at the Cliffs of Moher

Back on board the heated motor coach, nestled in my business class-legroom seat, Big Mike passes by counting heads. Satisfied with the tally – nary a passenger blown over the side of the Cliffs of Moher – he tells Eugene, aka The Quiet Man, to put her in gear, and we wave goodbye to a herd of contented cattle and continue our drive along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way.

Insight Vacations brochure

For complete information on Insight's 100+ premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures of Ireland itinerary, where there are always plenty of camera-ready sights, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

Irish coffee at Monk's Pub

See you in just a few kilometers when we'll hold our breath and go barreling down Corkscrew Hill in hot pursuit of Monk's Pub where we'll take a load off to enjoy a pint of Guinness, a steaming bowl of chowder and one of the absolute best Irish coffees to ever grace the planet.

Related Articles:
Remembering the Great Famine; Along the Banks of the River Shannon; The Dingle Peninsula; Grazing on The 19th Green; The Ring of Kerry; A Jaunty-Good Ride Through Killarney National Park

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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