LivingTravelO'Brien's Tower: The Complete Guide

O'Brien's Tower: The Complete Guide

Standing alone on a high cliff, O’Brien’s Tower is the best vantage point over what are arguably the most impressive sights in all of Ireland. The 19th century tower was built by a local landowner to attract more tourists to the Cliffs of Moher and its stone observation deck can still be visited today.

Here’s your comprehensive guide to O’Brien Tower in Ireland, including how to make the most of your visit.


The tower takes its name from its creator: Cornelius O’Brien. O’Brien was a lawyer and wealthy landowner in Co. Clare and one of the first people to realize the potential of tourism in the area. He built the O’Brien Tower in 1835, around the same time that well-to-do British men were embarking on grand tours of Europe to experience its most interesting and wonderful places as a way to complete their formal education.

Cornelius O’Brien decided to build the tower to attract what he called “strangers who visit the magnificent landscape of this neighborhood.” In this way, O’Brien’s Tower became the first Visitor Center in Ireland. It was designed to be a vantage point over the impressive horizon, and may even have provided a bit of a haven where Victorian visitors could enjoy a cup of tea while gazing up at the cliff.

Cornelius O’Brien became an elected member of the Clare Parliament and served as an MP for 20 years. In addition to building the O’Brien Tower, the politician was known for his good deeds. As a landlord, he tried to help his tenants and formed a hunger relief group. He also built other landmarks on the Emerald Isle, including bridges, roads, schools, and the well house that still protects St. Brigid’s well.

What to see

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the best things to see in Ireland and are well known for having some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in the country. As the highest point on the cliffs, O’Brien’s Tower is the best vantage point for gazing out at the otherworldly Cliff of Moher, as well as the surrounding landscape.

How far and what you can see depends entirely on the weather. On a clear day, you can see the nearby Aran Islands to the west, or look north to see the Twelve Bens in Connemara National Park, which are not the highest mountains in Ireland, but are famous for their wild nature. adjustment.

As if the scenery wasn’t impressive enough, you can also keep an eye out for whales and dolphins as you stand on the observation deck above. And if the waves are especially good, you might see some intrepid surfers trying to catch a huge swell.

Place and how to visit

O’Brien’s Tower is part of the visitor experience at the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare, Ireland. After passing the center, you can reach the tower by turning right and walking a bit towards the edge of the cliffs.

Tickets to visit the natural area, the center and the tower cost € 8 on the spot. If you book online at least one day in advance, you can book tickets for as little as € 4 per adult.

You can reach the Cliffs of Moher and O’Brien’s Tower lookouts by car, bus, bike, or on foot. To walk here, start at Fisher Street in Doolin and follow the path for about two and a half hours (about 6 miles). Buses run regularly from Galway and Ennis. Those who drive can park in the free lot across the street from the visitor center.

Please note: O’brien’s Tower will undergo a short restoration between February and May 2019 to replace the stairwell and repair the internal stonework. This construction can interrupt visits inside the tower.

What else to do nearby

The town of Doolin is technically a short walk from the Cliffs of Moher and O’Brien’s Tower, but it’s not embarrassing to drive there either. The coastal town is known for its traditional music and is the starting point to reach the Aran Islands.

While it’s a bit further afield, charming Galway is also close by and filled with historic sights, lively pubs, and local foods, including Galway Bay oysters.

Finally, the Burren is part of the same UNESCO Global Geopark as the Cliffs of Moher. The bleak limestone landscapes seem more comfortable on the moon’s surface than they do in the west of Ireland. The natural wonders are worth exploring after taking in the ocean views at O’Brien Tower.

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