Ireland – Cliffs of Moher – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

Ireland – Cliffs of Moher – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and


[The view of O’Brien’s tower and the cliff that it sits on from the long path]

They say that on a foggy day you can’t see much farther than a foot ahead of you at the Cliffs of Moher. Luckily for us Saturday February 11th was one of the clearest mornings my classmates and I have seen since being here in Ireland. That morning all sixteen students, both of our two professors and their family loaded onto Owen’s big diesel coach bus to take a ride out to scenic County Clare. It was a short hour and a half ride from Galway to our destination but the amount of time the heat took to begin to warm up the bus left us feeling like our feet had turned into icicles.

As we pulled up to our destination, the first thing that I was struck by was the attractions information building. It was built into the side of a hill, with huge light welcoming windows from floor to ceiling. As we walked into the building we were slapped by the delightful smell of espresso brewing in the coffee shop. Chatter also filled our ears, mostly coming from the huge gift shop found to the right of the entrance.

Because we were still unthawing from our long, cold bus ride, a few of us decided to check out the exhibit inside before exploring the cliffs. The exhibit was clearly set up for younger kids because it had things for them to climb on and interactive screens to color on. It also had an informational video that restarted ever twenty or so minutes. Another interactive screen allowed us to email postcards to our friends and family back home.

After ten short minutes sending E-postcards to our family members and friends, we were finally ready to face the cold and head out to the Cliffs of Moher. When we first started out on the path were left with a decision, do we turn right and go look at the Castle like building on the cliff or do we turn left and take a long walking path along the side of several of the cliffs. We decided to head to the right first.


[A view of the remainder of the path and the stone slabs that separated me from the cliffs edge]

We walked up several flights of stairs and down a path that lead us right up next to a big castle like structure that I later came to know as O’Brien’s Tower. Looking up at the tower invoked memories of listening to fairy tales as a child. O’Brien’s Tower looked like something that had come straight of a fairy tale. And then of course there was the fact that this tower had one of the most stunning views in all of Ireland. It looked out over the remained of the cliffs proud to still be standing there after 182 years of looking over that Cliff.

After taking many pictures and a few more selfies than I would like to admit, we turned our sights away from O’Brien’s tower and embarked on the long walk along the cliffs. The official paved path of the Cliffs of Moher doesn’t go much farther than a half a mile or so. At the end of a path you come to a sign that says something to the effect of “Danger; Stay on the Marked Path”, but much like every other tourist we ignore the signs warning and continue on the path.


[O’Brien’s tower that sits on top of the Cliffs of Moher]

This path is much different from the official path. It isn’t paved and on the left-hand side it is marked by an electric fence that happened to be turned off. The right side of the path keeps people in with large rock slabs but there are places where the slab has broken off and one can jump over it. On the other side of the rock slabs is an even more dangerous trail that lies right against the cliffs edge. One wrong misstep and you could end up in the rocky bay below.

We continued on this path for a mile before we have to step up to the path that has no protection between us and the cliffs edge. The view that spot was stunning. If you were daring enough you could even walk right to the edge and pier down at the hungry waves below, just waiting to swallow its next victim whole. From this side of the cliffs you had a picture-perfect view of O’Brien’s tower as well as small cliffs below. It was clear that at one point in time these smaller cliffs had been attached to the mainland but after thousands of years of erosion they now stood on their own.

The beauty of the cliffs was unnerving. As we continued to walk down the path we continued to gaze out at the view with amazement. We could feel our time there quickly slipping away. We wanted to continue down the path, we wanted to make it all the way to the end, but we knew if we continued on we would be stranded there. Defeated we turned around and made the walk back to the tourist center.

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(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)


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25 responses to “Ireland – Cliffs of Moher – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

  1. Hanna McLevish

    Your journeys in Ireland sound absolutely fantastic. To be able to experience a different culture and see all the beauty of a different place. It’s truly amazing how much we take for granted where we are. Have such a good time.

  2. Grace Young

    Thank you for sharing this awesome trip! From the pictures you include and what you tell us, it seems that this landscape is absolutely incredible. It is really cool that you got to see O’Brien’s Tower which reminded you of fairytales. I think that this says something about the Irish history, culture, and stories. We have been discussing in class how architecture, like art, is a means of communication for a culture. It is so cool that after many years these historical buildings are still standing and continue to communicate elements of that culture. It is also really cool that you got to send post cards from this place directly to your family. This is such a unique way to share your story and the Irish culture as well.

  3. Greta

    Good job Victoria! Our world is very dynamic while things are changing constantly and new ideas are being spread and then created. When we see new things, all of a sudden we want out life to be more static so we can just take things in. Just like when you were walking to the edge of the cliff and how time was passing by so fast. There’s always so much to see in our world but we never have enough time see everything we want to see.

  4. Kathleen Reicher

    Thanks for sharing, Victoria! When I was in Ireland 10 years ago, we didn’t get to see the Cliffs of Moher because of the fog you were talking about. From your pictures, they look absolutely stunning. I wish I could have had the chance to see them in person. I guess I’ll just have to make a trip back to see them. Even though I missed the Cliffs of Moher, I do remember seeing a lot of castles. My sisters and I counted every castle we saw, and by the end of our 2.5 week trip, we had seen almost 20 castles. I’m sure O’Brien’s tower is one of many castles that you have seen while in Ireland. O’Brien’s tower looks like it sits very close the the edge. I’m a bit afraid of heights, so I would definitely stay on the marked paths. But, props to you guys for exploring off the beaten path! I hope the rest of your trip is just as adventurous!

  5. Dylan Brovick

    The Cliffs of Moher look very daunting but beautiful. It is always nice to get some good luck when traveling especially when it comes to the weather. Going off the trail is one real I find that many people break and not many people get to upset about. It is nice to be able to get a look from a different perspective and to also feel like you are a real explorer is why i think so many people do it. The O’Brien tower really does look like a castle that you would see in a movie. It reminded me of an old book i had to read when i was younger that had a man living in a castle looking structure like that all alone. It is cool to be able to relate brand new things to something that you experienced awhile back or that you haven’t thought about in awhile.

  6. Trevor Schwartz

    Thanks for sharing. A lot of students have been showing pictures of the cliffs and wow do they look amazing. The tower atop the hill looks like a castle much like CSS. You’re right about the fairy tale feeling I get that too when I see that. Ireland seems like such a beautiful place, I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

  7. Michaela Campbell

    Victoria, thank you for your description of O’ Brien’s Tower and the amazing pictures that went along with it! I am glad that you and your classmates were able to experience a clear day while venturing around the cliffs and the tower. I think it is awesome that you and some of your peers defied the rules and continued on the literal, beaten path on the side of the cliffs. I am curious as to how you and your classmates came to the conclusion as to knowing that the electric fence was turned off (hoping no one had touched it in order to find out!). Either way, it seems your experience at the Tower was an impactful one, and I hope that you can your classmates can continue to explore the various old, architectural landmarks within Ireland. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Rachel Reicher

    Thank you for sharing your experience at the Cliffs of Moher! It seems as if a tourist is visiting Ireland, not going to the Cliffs of Moher would be shameful. The pictures just don’t seem to do justice of how spectacular the cliffs really are. It is amazing that the O’Brien castle is still standing there after centuries. We don’t see much of that in the United States. Why is that you think? It are monuments like those that make the land of Ireland so native. The tourist centers at those places, I assume, provide an abundance of information regarding the history of the monuments. Did the tourist center for the Cliffs of Moher explain how this castle has been able to still be structurally intact all these years? Thank you for sharing your experience and as you mentioned near the end that time was slipping away, it is times like those you just let sink in so the memories will be stronger and you can share them with your future generations.

  9. Amanda Sullivan

    Wonderful post Victoria! that’s a view not everyone has the opportunity to see and I’m sure it is beautiful. What luck you got with having such a blue sky on the day you got to see one of the best sites Ireland has to offer. I am curious as to how you found out that the electrical fence was turned off? I hope no one touched it… I’m glad you enjoyed your time at the Cliffs of Moher, and I hope to travel there some day myself.

  10. Avnish Miyangar

    I really like the picture of the Cliff, especially with the clear blue sky. The stone path that must have been there for a very long time. I have never seen such an arrangement before. Also humored me that as Human’s we have signs for our own safety but just like most we choose to do the opposite. Very interesting point that this may have been attached to some other mainland and the cliffs represent the division. Referring to the tower and its architecture. A symbol that still stands today after so long, when it was originally build it must of had a reason to be there. Overlooking the sea for on coming ships for trade perhaps or even enemies.

  11. Emily Bugni

    Some of the best views of our lives are hidden from us. Traveling along a narrow path through cliffs and canyons sure can be an amazing experience. While very different from the cliffs you had visited, the Grand Canyon, for me, was better than any other place I have ever visited. It was almost as if there was another world in its depths. Donkeys and pack mules traversed their way along the slim edges, while tourists scrambled around each other in search for the best views. Seeing these hidden worlds is one of the best adventures that a tourist could experience and I’m glad that you found it.

  12. Caroline Grube

    This article was so fun to read! I have always wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland! They look so beautiful! Your time there sounds like it was a once in a lifetime experience. I cannot wait to have the opportunity to travel to Ireland and see these Cliffs. O’Brian’s Tower sounds like one of the best spots to see all of the Cliffs and their beauty. Thank you for sharing part of your experience in Ireland!

  13. Sarah Plankers

    Wonderfully descriptive article, I felt like I was there with you. Also, I appreciate how you described the touristy elements of the trip because they do indeed matter. A great way to boost tourism and promoting travel is by word-of-mouth and or being able to send virtual messages such as you were able to do at the Cliffs. Exploring and going quite literally off of the beaten path is something I found myself doing while abroad as well, and it was especially exciting not knowing what was ahead of me. Sometimes I think the best way to learn is by doing, especially if the “doing” includes some off the road exploration.

  14. McKenna Holman

    How lucky that you guys got to be there on a day when it was so clear! I remember when I was in the U.K. that days where the sky was clear and I saw the sun were pretty rare! Although, the cloudy days definitely do not take away from the beauty of the area, that is for sure. Its really neat that the attractions building was built into the side of the hill. I wonder if that is relatively common for the area? I bet you could see for miles from O’Brien’s tower, especially on such a clear day!

  15. Kendra Brunn

    This was so fun to read! Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing them! I like that you commented on how you ignored the signs that told you to stay on the paved path and continued on. I feel like some of the best adventures and views happen when you explore a little further than you are supposed to! It seems like everyone is having so much fun on this trip and I’m sure you’ll continue to make awesome memories. Have fun on the rest of your trip!

  16. It sounds as though you had a wonderful adventure exploring the cliffs. The picture of O’Brien’s tower really does look like something from a fairytale! What do you feel you learned from this trip? I think your addressing the changes that occur among the cliffs and the mainland over time show how quick to change things can be, while also still connecting one to the part and history that exists (in this case, among the cliffs). I am glad you were able to find such a beautiful, comparably perfect view by exploring a path “less traveled,” I am also glad no great tragedy befell you while exploring it! Thank you for sharing, and beautiful pictures.

  17. William Brennhofer

    I love that Owen keeps on coming up and that you guys can rely on him. Things like this is why I want to travail the world. The things that different countries hold is so amazing. The idea that the tower has stood there for so long is amazing and it makes me so happy that people still value things like that. I hope you get to see so much more of the country and the hidden treasurers that it hoods for all to see.

  18. I’m sure that the finest views from O’Brien’s Tower were the cliffs themselves. While the Cliffs of Moher have long been admired for their scenic beauty, more should be known about the man who first promoted tourism to the inspiring place. The exhibit probably told you about Cornelius O’Brien. I looked up O’Brien’s Tower and came across a man who believed that “the development of tourism would benefit the local economy & bring the people out of poverty”. The Irish politician built the tower in 1835 as an observation tower for the hundreds of tourists that frequented the cliffs. This piece of Irish history and culture is fascinating. I can only imagine that you felt like the only person in the world as you gazed out to sea. If you go back, maybe you’ll spot dolphins and whales?!

  19. Skyler Long

    This was fun and interesting to look at. Off course i’m a picture lover so the pictures really interest me in coming to Ireland just by that. Another peice I liked is the history that all these terrific sites have. I think it is interesting to learn about all these sites and when they were founded. It looks like everyone is having a blast on their trip and are learning so much, another reason I am wanting to go abroad. Thank you for sharing hope to see more articles with all the new information there is to learn about.

  20. Andrew Bailey

    Victoria, thank you very much for sharing this story and photos from your travels. I think it is really interesting that we as humans are fascinated by castles/towers and that our ancestors were able to build such amazing, tall structures. My cousin is currently studying abroad in Germany and he posted a photo on Instagram the other day of a selfie he took in front of a giant castle that looked like Hogwarts. O’Brien’s tower reminded me of this and then I could not help but think about Tower hall at St. Scholastica. These buildings were constructed for practical purposes (such as for shelter, defense, a place of education, etc.), but they also serve a symbolic purpose as the people who built them made them to be grand, towering structures. Pretty darn cool, especially because these structures are still around today.

  21. Katie Peterson

    The Cliffs of Moher look so gorgeous on a sunny day! I have only ever seen pictures of them through fog. Seeing the Cliffs of Moher in person (and visiting Ireland) is on my bucket list, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey there! I am always amazed at the towers and castles that were built a long time ago and still stand today, especially learning about the history behind them. Also, I am glad that you all stayed safe while venturing away from the main path! Thank you for sharing!

  22. Diana Deuel

    Hello Victoria!
    Thank you for writing about your time abroad! I love to read about peoples thoughts and experiences while in different countries. The way you described the environment at the cliffs made it sound like a really amazing experience. It is crazy to think that tower has been there for 182 years. The paths sound both intriguing and fun! I hope you took lots of pictures and had a great trip!

  23. Madina

    hello victoria,
    Thank you for sharing this interesting article. Doing toursity things such as visiting O’briens tower and experiencing the beautiful sceneries is a luxury that not a lot of us have. When experienced however, it is safe to say that it can change your perspective on life because being exposed to things that are unfamiliar to us can be quite amazing if approached the correct way. I am glad you enjoyed your abroad experience and hope you’ll share more with us soon!

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