Located at the centre of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Clare are the majestic, Cliffs of Moher. It is believed the cliffs are over 320 million years old, dating back to when Ireland’s ancient rivers laid down sediments on the seabed to form the rocks of the Cliffs of Moher – sandstone, siltstone and shale. The ancient history of the Cliffs began with the first sighting of man and stretches back almost 2000 years.
It’s no surprise that the Cliffs of Moher are considered one of the natural wonders of the world and attracts over 1 million visitors from all over the globe each year.
Soaring to 216m at their highest point, on a clear day visitors may be lucky enough to see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay to the West and from the O’Brien Tower, those with a keen eye may even see the Dingle Peninsula and The Blasket Islands in Co. Kerry as they float in the distance.
Standing at the Cliffs, you have a birds eye view of the mighty Atlantic Ocean as she crashes a mythical Celtic beat against the rocks some 700 feet below. Close your eyes as you inhale the sea-spray that perfumes the fresh, crisp air. Standing there, it is hard not to contemplate the many fabled legends surrounding this ancient site. For centuries, the Cliffs rugged beauty has inspired a thousand tales and legends ranging from underwater mythical cities, to the Tuatha Dé Danann and of course, The Ledged of Hags Head. The story is told that the most powerful and feared witch in all of Ireland, who was known by the name of Mal, fell deeply in love with Cú Chulainn, the legendary member of the Red Branch, the warrior band of the High King of Ulster. Renowned for his superhuman abilities of magic, wisdom and warfare, Cú Chulainn was a strong, powerful warrior known throughout the length and breadth of Ireland.
Unfortunately for the love-struck Hag, Cú Chulainn did not return her affections and fled from her, roaming all over the land. Mal however, would not be denied and began chasing Cú Chulainn wherever he travelled. Cú Chulainn eventually ended up south of the Cliffs of Moher, on the mouth of the Shannon River and looking behind, he watched in horror as the witch was still in pursuit. In a frantic bid to escape the chasing Hag, Cú Chulainn leaped from the Cliffs to the island known as Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock. Mal continued the chase and luckily was carried by a strong gust of wind as she leaped for the island. In an instant, Cú Chulainn quickly leaped back and Mal, with the false confidence from the last jump, leaped again but unlucky for her, fell short without the help of the prevailing wind and tragically met her fate as she crashed into the rocks below. Those rocks, now named Hag’s Head, are said to have taken the shape of Mal’s profile and remains visible to this day. So on a visit to this most magnificent part of Ireland, be sure to seek out a view of the majestic Hag’s Head and remember poor Mal and the ultimate price she paid for her love…..