Refurbished tower and shuttle bus service unveiled at Cliffs of Moher
O'Brien's Tower is back in business along with a seasonal shuttle, reports Pól Ó Conghaile
The Cliffs of Moher rarely disappoint, but visitors in recent months may have been bemused to find O'Brien's Tower wrapped in scaffolding.
The iconic tower, first built as a tourist attraction overlooking the cliffs in 1835, has been undergoing a significant restoration.
A reboot costing over €350,000 has seen the removal and replacement of the stair enclosure, staircases and windows in the tower, as well as the application of a lime rendering - or wet dash - externally.
Now, the refurbished tower is back in business.
“The tower was suffering from water ingress as a consequence of its very exposed location," explains Geraldine Enright, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, which is owned by Clare County Council.
"Due to concern for the long term damage and also visitor safety, repairs and interventions were carried out. We applied a lime render to the exterior in an effort to stop water penetrating through the wall. The tower was most likely rendered when it was built almost two centuries ago."
O'Brien's Tower was originally installed by local landowner and Member of Parliament Cornelius O'Brien, who believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and bring people out of poverty.
He couldn't have foreseen the numbers that would come - last year, the Cliffs of Moher attracted some 1.58 million visitors, making them Ireland's most in-demand attraction along with the Guinness Storehouse.
Recently, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience introduced dynamic pricing to try to spread visitor flow across the day - with a 50pc discount on the €8pp entry fee available for early and late visits.
A new shuttle bus service has also been introduced, operating eight times daily during peak season between the cliffs, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Lisdoonvarna and Doolin.
The service is an attempt to reduce traffic congestion and help distribute tourist spend to nearby towns and villages.
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience has also tendered for consultants to prepare a strategic review for the site, to bolster sustainability and help create "a truly memorable visitor experience" in the years to come.
The restored tower is open seven days a week, with free guided tours while visitors are being surveyed for their feedback.
"O'Brien's Tower stands proud, is protected into the future, and looks spectacular," Enright says. "The guided experience is fantastic and provides a unique insight into the backstory of the cliffs in an intimate setting."