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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Alamy Stock Photo Tourists enjoying the views at the Cliffs of Moher, where 1.1m patrons visited last year.

'Brazen': Tourists charged €99 for 'watching the sunset' atop Cliffs of Moher

It’s the latest criticism over how Clare County Council is attempting to market one of the country’s most scenic sites.

A LOCAL AUTHORITY has been accused of blatantly “ripping off” tourists by charging €99 to allow people to watch the sunset with a box of craft items from atop the country’s most popular natural tourist attraction.

The Cliffs of Moher Experience, a visitors centre run by Clare County Council, has priced its “enchanting evening experience” as such, while providing customers several locally made goods in a ‘Crafted in Clare’ box. 

The “bespoke” box includes a photograph of the landscape, chocolates, lip balm and two types of soap.

It’s the latest point of contention in the north Clare area, as locals have previously hit out at their council over a range of new measures which they say are prioritising profit over community welfare.

The area is extraordinarily popular, with 1.1m patrons visiting the Cliffs of Moher last year according to the council’s estimates.

This latest tension comes as the council unveils its Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040 which it says will make the cliffs more than “just a photo-stop”, by creating a “paced emotional journey” and “wilder, back to nature experience” along the towering rock.

The new package was defended by Clare County Council which said the package, launched in recent weeks, was a “high-end offering” that demonstrates a commitment to “sustainability” while also being “not for profit”.

  • CLIFF EDGE: Why does it cost so much to park at the Cliffs of Moher? Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to find out. Support the project here.

But one local bed-and-breakfast owner told The Journal that it risked leaving a “sour note” with unaware tourists after they discover they’re being “ripped off”.


Éimhín Miller said the package was “brazen of the council” and said she discovered about it only in recent days. 

She pointed to how the cost of using the visitors centre is €12.50 and that using the pathways leading to the cliffs from non-council owned entrances can be as little as €3.  

“I had an English couple staying with me and told me as they were setting out that they had ‘booked the sunset at the cliffs’.

“I really thought they were joking but it turns out they were paying €198 altogether for the experience. I couldn’t believe it.”

Miller said many tourists may Google how best to watch the sunset at the Cliffs of Moher, which will lead to the Enchanting Evening Experience near the top of the results page.

“They’re not even guaranteed the sunset,” Miller said.

‘Unique’ offering

When contacted by The Journal, Clare County Council said the package was introduced in July as a “pilot product” in response to demand from tour operators seeking a “unique, high-end offering that aligns with the Cliffs of Moher Experience’s commitment to sustainability”.

It added that at the end of the current tourism season, the council will assess the success of package and decide whether to continue offering it in future.  

The council said that it has allowed it to recognise the importance of supporting local businesses and driving economic benefits to the Clare region.

Outlining what it said were “some key aspects of the package”, it said it allows a tailored experience for visitors during non-peak hours.

“It allows our customer service agents to provide more attention to visitors and enables visitors to enjoy more private moments in the natural beauty of the Cliffs,” a spokesperson said.


Local artisans also benefitted from the package with each “carefully chosen to showcase the craftsmanship and sustainability ethos” of County Clare.

“Each product in the box has a unique story and connection to the local community,” the council’s statement continued. 

“We are committed to sustainability, and the Crafted in Clare box is a testament to this commitment. The box itself is made by a local carpenter and features gold embossing with the Cliffs of Moher logo.

“It comes in a sustainable and reusable hessian bag with the Crafted in Clare logo, further branding County Clare as a hub for quality craft products.”

Miller said it was the latest example of the council increasing opportunities to “make a commodity of what’s a natural site” in the famous cliffs.

“I just find it very opportunistic. We’re business owners who are accommodating tours, an you know yourself if you go to another country and if you think you’ve been ripped off, it just leaves really sour note. That’s the last thing that we want people leaving North Clare feeling.”

2040 masterplan

The criticism comes as a new masterplan for the re-development of the Cliffs of Moher visitor attraction will deliver a projected €36m in annual revenues for the tourist operation and employ more than 300 people. 

The re-development is to deliver a new ‘world class’ visitor attraction and the implementation of the 2040 Cliffs of Moher Strategy “will deliver a more profitable and more robust operation for the future”.

It proposes making the Cliffs of Moher more than “just a photo-stop”, instead aiming to create a “paced emotional journey that maximises the exhilaration of the final cliff view”.

However, it also criticised current visitor facilities and outlined the development of a new ‘gateway’ building and the conversion of the existing visitor centre into an interpretative hub. 

There are also proposals for a new footbridge and a new cliff edge walk that includes a variety of new engineered viewing platforms to bring visitors over the cliff edge where views are particularly dramatic.

Additional reporting by Gordon Deegan

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