Playing on the Edge of a Cliff

The Cliffs of Moher are apparently Ireland’s largest tourist attraction. And like the good tourists that we are, we got on the bus from Dublin and made the 4 hour journey over to the West side of Ireland to see the Atlantic from 700 feet away, vertically.

The Visitor Center is worth mentioning as it is in fact an enormough Hobbit burrow, built into a hill, so as to not mar the landscape. Inside is laid out in the flat sheets of stone mined from the surrounding areas.

The cliffs of Moher themselves are a true wonder. Extending as far as the eye can see, they are properly jagged with water endlessly working to erode the rocks from below.

Cliffs of Moher at my feet

We initially climbed the long staircase on the right side of the cliff. This is apparently the classic view and includes a look out tower, O’Brien’s tower, which we didn’t really bother with. After getting enough of the blue skies and the blue water from that end, we made our way over to the leftmost side, where we soon noted a pictogram showing that it is easy to fall off the cliffs if you are a total idiot and walk on the edge of it. We laughed and took pictures.
As we continues on our way, we saw a large No Trespassing Sign, but as we saw many people beyond that sign, we laughed while taking pictures of that as well. We did the same with the “Extreme Danger” sign and then hopped over a stone wall to continue our survey of the cliffs.

There is such a thing as machismo, and you don’t have to try to be manly just to experience it. We first criticized the idiots who were taking pictures on the grassy banks with less than a foot between them and the abyss. But before we knew it, we become those idiots. We sat down and admired the water and the cliffs and the birds flying far far below our feet. To be honest, I was a little nauseous, but seeing so many others calmly sitting there, and seeing my friends do it, I told myself it was fine. It was windy, so I tied my hoody around my waist, suddenly visualizing how it may fly off and be lost forever. That visual made me a little more apprehensive. At the same time what I was looking at was so beautiful, and so difficult to comprehend, that fear wasn’t really an option. It wasn’t like looking down from a high building and wondering what it would be like to fall. It was higher than that, and it was so calm, that falling didn’t work into the scene.

Later we walked back and tried to enjoy the cliffs from the safety of the legal observation zones with sturdy fences on which to lean. But it wasn’t really the same. So we went back over the wall and spent more time looking up into the sky, looking down into the waves, watching the birds. Finally we had to go back to the bus. On the way there we passed a little patch of flowers designated as a memorial to those who lost their lives at the cliffs. At first I tried to imagine a battle being fought there, but then it dawned on me that this is a pretty perfect place to either kill yourself or to fall accidentally.

After a quick internet search of “Cliffs of Moher, suicide” I found out that my thinking was correct. It also meant that we put ourselves in danger, for no real reason other than that others were doing it and because none of us said, no, let’s not do it. Can’t say that I’m sorry about it. Can’t even say that I learned a lesson of some sort. The hour and a half that we spent idly looking into a deadly chasm was the highlight of my trip.

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