Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857) a descendant of the first High King of Ireland, Brian Boru was landlord of the locality. He became MP for Clare in 1832, an office he held for 20 years. He built the tower in 1835, now referred to as O’Brien’s Tower as an observation tower for hundreds of tourists that came to the area on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Attracting tourists is in the lifeblood of the Cliffs of Moher. At the end of the 16th to early 19th centuries, young nobles would embark on grand tours of Europe and Irish travel journals around the time of 1780 give many descriptions of the beauty of County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius O’Brien believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy. Cornelius O’Brien was a benevolent landlord and made he many improvements to the area including:
- A wall along the Cliffs, made from Liscannor flagstone, the remnants of which have been restored within the visitor centre grounds.
- A bridge over the Inagh river between Lahinch and Liscannor known as O’Brien’s bridge or to some locals as the new bridge.
- He ensured there was place for educating the youth of Moher and the surrounds by building St Brigid’s National School in 1846, this school remained open until the late 1960’s.
- O’Brien was a member of the Liscannor Famine Relief Committee which provided relief work to impoverished tenants whose crops had failed.
- He channeled his love of building into relief works and constructed new roads in the area.
- He once fell ill while in London and asked for water to be sent from St Brigid’s Well. He credited the water with his recovery and built the current well house as a token of his gratitude.
Built in 1835, a now derelict tower was restored in 1970, 2008 and again in 2019. Since its construction, the tower has been used as a viewing point for the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.
On a clear day the view encompasses the coast of Connemara to the north across Galway Bay and the Clare coastline to Loop Head and beyond to the south.
In 2019 the Tower underwent a large restoration project including the application of a new lime render thereby protecting the Tower for many years to come.
The interior has also been upgraded and we now offer a new experiential tour of the Tower led by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides.
The story of the infamous Cornelius O’Brien is brought to life through story and visual effects.
Take a look out our History page to see how O’Brien’s Tower fits into the history of The Cliffs of Moher as a whole.
Entry to the O’Briens Tower Experience and tour are included in the admission price.