The Cliffs of Moher

Scrolling through Facebook or binging video clips on YouTube of Ireland, you’d be hard pressed to find one that excludes the Cliff of Moher. The dramatic view of the high cliffs and rolling waves a couple hundred feet below look like a scene out of a movie. In fact, several movies have been filmed at the Cliffs including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Standing on the top of the cliffs and walking along the rocky and uneven paths around, it’s not hard to see why this location has been used in film or why it’s such a popular tourist destination. They are, in one word, breathtaking.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher was one of the excursions I was most excited about. With such a beautiful landscape, I knew my little photography heart would just sing at the opportunity. The Pitt in Dublin program included several excursions outside of the city such as the Glendalough visit two weeks prior. Instead of classes, those studying from Pitt and other universities met outside the school for our weekend visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and the Aran Islands. We were originally meant to spend two hours at the Cliffs but due to late comers to the bus, the time was cut down to a strict one and a half hour so that we could get to Galway on time. I was so happy that we were able to visit the Cliffs, but I was sad with how little time we had there. It’s one of the places you have to spend a full day exploring and I really look forward to going back and doing so in the future.

After a scenic bus ride with lots of cow, sheep, horse, and donkey sightings, we pulled up to the visitation center, which in and of itself is very cool looking. The building is cut into the mountain side, the grass forming a roof. The first thing I did off the bus was run inside to use the bathrooms (small bladder on a group bus is torture). Once I walked back outside, I took pictures of the area surrounding the parking lot which included some picnic benches, flag poles, a wooden carving, and the visitor center.

While I was photographing the outside, a woman was walking her extremely energetic Springer Spaniel who bounded toward the picnic benches. Now, I’ve said in a previous blog post how much I love dogs and Springers Spaniels are my absolute FAVORITE. So, I gave myself a little time before hiking up one of the trails to talk to her owner and ask if I could pet her. The adorable pup was named Sienna and belonged to a German woman who loved to talk about Springers and her little girl.

A rare moment where Sienna stayed (mostly) still waiting for some water

She was an energetic wiggle-worm, who upon seeing my interest in her yanked on her leash to get some scratches from me. Sienna and her owner had just finished a nice hike around the Cliffs, but the pup was still bounding with energy and trying to make friends with any human who glanced her way. When her owner pulled out her collapsible water dish, Sienna plopped down, legs splayed out behind her as she eagerly slopped it up. When she was satisfied she resumed her energetic pull toward the exciting world around her. I took some photographs of Sienna, thanked her owner, and headed up the trails.

When we were driving up to the parking lot initially, the sun was beaming, blue sky was poking out from nonthreatening white clouds. Not long after we arrived, though, gray clouds from over the sea rolled in bringing biting wind and a splattering of rain. Not long before we arrived, we were told how lucky we were to have clear visibility, unfortunately for most of our stay the weather turned. I was still determined to take as many interesting photographs as I could, rain or shine.

You can see the dark clouds rolling in. 

Another unlucky strike for us was as our time came to a close, the skies opened up back to sunny blues and the winds died down. So, looking through my photos as I made my way down one of the trails, you can see the progress from 1. Incoming storm 2. Fighting the storm 3. Post storm. I had many struggles taking clear photos here as I constantly had to throw my camera (which weighs a considerable amount and is a bit cumbersome) under my shirt to protect it from both the wind and the rain. I was largely unsuccessful there and had to wipe the rain water off the body and the lens as best I could. Otherwise, the photos would have spots and blurriness. These photos required more editing than usual as my lens got quite dirty and dust spots appeared on my sensor. The things we do for art!

O'Brien's Tower in the distance

I loved walking along the cliff edge, even though I suffered some bad windburn to the face and the beatdown on my camera. Once the wind died down and the rain dissipated it was fantastic. I don’t have a photo of this as it occurred while I shielded my camera and the rain poured down, but I got to witness an American couple get engaged up on the cliffs! Another trail walker stopped to take a picture of them on their phones. The poor couple was shaking with what I assumed was excitement and cold. Their hair was slick against their face as they smiled for the photo. I said my congratulations to them and continued down the trail. Later on, I would take photos of a tourist who thanked me profusely as he hiked on his own. I hope he liked the pictures! I took them on his camera and I was not familiar with his equipment.

When the storm started getting stronger, people tried to take cover in and around this tower. 

Anyway, that was a bit winded! Enjoy the photos below! I’ll caption any I think are interesting but mostly just look at the gorgeousness that is the Cliffs of Moher. At the end is a bonus - bovine surprise that I was absolutely elated to see and was entirely unexpected!

If only it had stayed this nice the entire time!

The walkway up a steepish hill

COWS! Right beside the trail were fields of cows, happily grazing.

You can see here the two levels of the trail and the fence to the left separating visitors from the cows!

The gorgeous blues returned just as I walked back. So sad!