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history

O Brien's Tower

The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower. The tower was built by Cornelius O' Brien in 1835, a descendant of Brian Boru, to impress female visitors. It was also used as an observation point for the hundreds of tourists who even then, visited the cliffs. The tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius was a man ahead of his time, believing that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and bring people out of poverty. He also built a wall of Moher flagstones along the cliffs and it was said in the locality that he built everything around here except the cliffs. He died in 1857 and his remains lie in the O'Brien vault in the graveyard adjoining St. Brigid's Well.

O'Brien's Tower and the Cliffs of Moher are located a short distance from the village Doolin famous for its traditional music and from Liscannor famous for its slate flagstones which were used at the time for fencing purposes. In fact historical legend has it that Cornelius O'Brien, one time member of the parliament for County Clare won a bet with his English counterparts that he could build a fence a mile long, a yard high and an inch thick. These were the dimensions of the flagstones and they were quickly adapted as building material as well as floor covering in farmhouses throughout the 19th century. The flagstones bear the remarkable feature of the imprint of fossilized eels compacted over thousands of years.

You are advised to dress warmly when visiting the cliffs because of the cool Atlantic winds blowing in off the ocean.

Hags Head

Hags Head is to the southern point of the cliffs, where there is an unusual rock formation resembling a woman's head looking out to sea.

History and legend has stories of an old hag (witch or "Cailleach" in Gaelic ). She is often linked to the golden fire goddess, Brigit as her darker half "Cailleach Bheara". At Hag's Head, she is called Mal.

So it is said Mal fell madly in love with the great famous Irishman, Cú Chulainn. However, Cú Chulainn did not return her affections, but the opposite. He ran all over Ireland trying to get away from her, eventually ending up at Loop Head in south Clare.

Mal thought she had him cornered here, but Cú Chulainn escaped by jumping back to the Cliffs of Moher using the sea stacks as stepping stones to escape her clutches.

Mal, try as she might could not stretch to Cú Chulainn athletic ability - she missed her footing and was dashed to pieces against the cliff. She fell to her death at Hags Head where her blood is said to have stained all the sea.

The nearby town of Miltown Malbay was named for her and the "Wave" at Loop Head was also called after her "Tonn Mhal,". This wave was believed to raise a voice of unutterable anguish, foretelling death and disaster.

 

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