near Doolin, County Clare, Ireland
The O’Brien Tower is built on a headland of the Cliffs of Moher near the village of Doolin overlooking Galway Bay 6 miles from Lisdoonvarna in the west of Ireland.
The shale and sandstone cliffs are one of Ireland’s major tourist sites rising from 394 feet at Hags Head to the highest point five miles away which is just north of O’Brien’s Tower at 702 feet.
The three storey castellated observation tower is built of grey stone and is situated in open surroundings. It has been fully restored after months of conservation work.
Visitors can use the tower’s top floor viewing platform for long reaching views over the bay and out towards the Twelve Bens mountain range; also known as the Twelve Pins, in Connemara, Loop Head at the southern tip of County Clare and the Aran Islands to the west. The castle also has a gift shop and a gallery for local artists on the first floor.
The tower is open daily and access to the viewing platform is via a spiral staircase.
It is also possible to have exclusive use of the first floor and roof of the tower (not usually available during the peak tourist season between June and August) for private functions, renewal of vows and wedding blessings, when castle staff can also arrange musicians and storytellers.
Visitors to the tower can also take in the ‘Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience’ which is built into the hillside nearby and learn about the geology, flora and fauna of the area including some of the oldest rocks at the bottom of the cliffs where a channel has been cut by a river 300 million years old.
The tower was built as an observation tower for the hundreds of Victorian tourists visiting the area by a local man Sir Cornelius O’Brien; a descendent of the Kings of Thomond from Bunratty Castle and The High King of Ireland Brian Borou, in 1835.
He was famous for being one of the first people in the area to exploit tourism hoping to bring much needed revenue to the local economy. He was also responsible for building a wall along the cliffs using Moher flagstones and got a reputation of being ‘the person who built everything apart from the cliffs’. On his death in 1857 he was buried in the O’Brien vault which adjoins St Brigid’s Well at Liscannor.
The Cliff of Moher have featured in many films amongst them ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987) and ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ (2009). The ashes of Dusty Springfield were also scattered at the cliffs.
Other Castles in the Area
Ballinalacken Castle, County Clare
Doonagore Castle, County Clare
Doonbeg Castle, County Clare
Dysert O'Dea Castle, County Clare
Gleninagh Castle, County Clare
Leamaneh Castle, County Clare
Newtown Castle, County Clare