A history of O’Brien’s Tower
The Cliffs of Moher elemental beauty has captivated visitors since the 19th century, making them a ‘tourist attraction’ before that phrase was even heard. The tower was built on the cliffs in 1835 by local landlord and MP Sir Cornelius O’Brien as an observation tower for the English tourists who frequented the cliffs at the time. It is said to have initially served as a teahouse or folly another version tells of Cornelius building the tower in order to impress women he was courting! Whatever the truth – from this vantage point on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands and the Twelve Bens of Connemara across Galway Bay.
Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857)
A descendant of the first High King of Ireland Brian Boru, Cornelius O’Brien was the landlord of the locality. He became MP for Clare in 1832, an office he held for 20 years. He built O’Brien’s tower in 1835. His care and expenditure in making the Cliffs of Moher accessible, safe and attractive to visitors made him popular among his tenants, who were given employment when little else was available. Hear more about Cornelis O’Brien by downloading our App and Audio guide.
Entry to the O’Brien’s Tower Experience and tour are included in the admission price.
O’Brien’s Tower is available for exclusive hire for weddings, please see our events page
In 1876 Canon Philip Dwye said it best
Stay on while the setting sun illuminates with dazzling splendour cliff and headland, and tower and island, and then sinks in a halo of glory on the western horizon. And, friend, be persuaded to wait longer still, yes, wait on until you have seen in what weird light the full moon hath touched with her silvery beams every prominent line of these lofty cliffs, while all the rest retire in awful gloom or grow up out of the night cloud.