Natural paradises in danger to be saved: The Cliffs of Moher



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Natural paradises in danger to be saved: The Cliffs of Moher

The 319 million year old Cliffs of Moher are the second most popular tourist destination in Ireland, after Trinity College Dublin. The cliffs are a breeding ground and a safe haven for over 30,000 seabirds. The cliffs are located on the northwestern part of the Clare coast, in the middle of the West of Ireland.

They can be reached by car from Galway by taking the Burren road which passes through Lisdoonvarna to Doolin and from there the panoramic road, as the village is just before the cliffs, or by the road coming from Liscannor.
The cliff walls are formed by layers of schist, sandstone and sedimentary rock formed between the two previous ones.

The clear cut of the ground shows an overview of the geological formation that lasted millions of years, with obviously the oldest layer at the bottom, close to the sea. The path that starts from Doolin, and which makes the complete climb, is an authentic journey within the evolution of Anglo-American soil.

As a major tourist attraction, a visitor center with parking has been on site since the early 1990s, run by Shannon Heritage. Since 2005, a construction site has been opened for a new visitor center with a very modern conception, a sort of non-invasive bunker located inside one of the hills that plunge into the sea, which was completed in 2008.

This however involved the demolition of the old center, moved to the other side of the road, resulting in the installation of a traffic light with yellow lights and a queue of cars, as well as the closure of the wildest and most popular stretch of the cliff.

Regarding the new visitor center, considerable controversy has arisen from many people, as well as the disappointment of many visitors, especially the most passionate about Ireland and its wild landscapes. Part of public opinion, already struck by the fact that a considerable part of the hill was removed to build the new center, considers the manicured stairways set up on the tower to be a notable deterioration, which would deprive the cliffs of their naturalness, as well as despise the considerable exploitation tourism derived from the high costs of parking, the forced passage in small shops and the contrast that these structures cause with the surrounding landscape.