Once again, I find myself at odds with the English language to try to figure out how to properly explain how beautiful and unique this landscape is.
The cliffs stretch off into the ocean for miles, with 700 feet drops to the water. The colors are just beautiful- the vivid green of the grass, the dark blue-teal of the water, the red and black of the rocks and silt, the bright yellow of the dandelion flowers mixing with light purple of Sea Pinks and Sheeps Bit, the grey-white sky over it all, the list goes on and on. And, if the list of colors is long, the list of textures easily matches it. Wavy, fluffy grass grows off of jagged shale, and water goes from smooth and shiny to light and foamy against the edge of the polished rock cliffs. Pebble beaches, inhabited by flocks of seagulls, rise up to walls that alternate between spider-web cracks and horizontal rock layers. Moss and lichen grow in blooming, fractal patterns, and clouds trace lines against the flat sky.
To save you from more of my adjectives and metaphors, here are some photos:
Josh, Austin, Adam and I walked along the cliffside to Hag's Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs. These photos were taken all along the way there. As always, hover over for captions.
The story of the Cliffs of Moher begins 300 million years ago, during the Upper Carboniferous Period (that's the age of the giant dragonflies and 6 foot long lizards, for you who, like me, aren't geology buffs). At this time, this land mass was the location of the delta for a massive river. Many different types of sediment and rock were washed here by the river, such as sand, clay, and silt. As the continental masses shifted, the sediment was compacted to produce what is now sandstone, mudstone, shale, and stiltstone. These types of rock were eroded over time, and, due to their different densities and resilience, created the remarkable cliffs we see today.
Because sediment collected at this site over so many years, it's rock layers act like a sort of geological history book. Layers of different types of rock tell scientists about what was going on at the time, and this are has been extensively studied. Along with information on how the are was behaving over time, the Cliffs of Moher contain a wealth of fossils. The two most common types are scolia and burrows. The scolia are long, squiggly trails left by unidentified creatures, likely worms or snails. Burrows are small circles, also left by unknown marine creatures, this time as they created either breathing or escaping tunnels in the sand.
Many years after all these unknown fossil-creating critters had died off, humans came walking along these picturesque cliffs. The first signs of life date back to the first century BCE. These ancient peoples came up with many legends of various people and creatures who had lived here. These include stories of mermaids and sea hags and the like, which are highly entertaining, and gave their names to some of the rock formations. The people of 100 BCE also built a sort of fort on the southern edge of the cliffs, known as Hag's Head, which stood up until the 1700s. This structure was likely built as a defense outpost or refuge, as the cliffs are too inhospitable for ancient man to have lived there. the last record of it is from 1780, however, after which it was torn down and replaced with a telegraph tower, which was also torn down, this time to make way for a lookout tower during the Napoleonic War. The ruins of this tower are still present today, and visitors can walk around and in it at Hag's Head.