For those familiar with the Cliffs of Moher, the name Cornelius O’Brien might ring a few bells
Cornelius was a busy man. Landlord, solicitor and County Clare’s representative in the British Parliament. He was even in a duel once. Well, almost.
He also built a certain tower. In order to harness the views of and from Moher, O’Brien decided to commission a viewing platform at the cliffs’ highest point. But it wouldn’t just be practical, it would be pretty, too. The result? O'Brien's Tower.
Arguably, the finest views from O’Brien’s Tower are the cliffs themselves. Depending on the mist, the day and the weather, you might be lucky enough to see the Aran Islands. The panorama of the Atlantic stretches wide across the horizon and the islands, a traditional Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) region, spread themselves across it.
It seems a little greedy that from somewhere as engrossing as the Cliffs of Moher, a visitor to O’Brien’s Tower can also clap eyes on Connemara’s Twelve Bens (also known as Twelve Pins) mountains. Fringed with scree and stony peaks, the 12 mountains (the highest of which, Benbaun, rises to 729m) congregate in a grand circle, encasing a valley which floods with sun at the slightest invitation.
Swing round south from the tower and your eyes will settle on Loop Head and its formidable, impeccably whitewashed lighthouse, manned until 1991, when it became automated. When you’re gazing dreamily on the lighthouse from O’Brien’s Tower, know this: you can rent the lightkeeper’s house from the Irish Landmark Trust.
According to the Trust’s Karen Johnston, the views from here aren’t half bad, either: “You feel like the only person in the world as you gaze, uninterrupted, out to sea from the upstairs viewing room. If you are lucky, you’ll spot dolphins and whales as they pass by.”
Come for the Cliffs, stay for the whales and dolphins.