Towards the end of our second full day in Ireland, even though we had beautiful weather, we were feeling sort of ho-hum. After such a successful previous day at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, our second day really wasn’t going in our favor. First, the castle we’d tried to see was closed, then Galway turned out to be a much busier place than we were expecting, and finally, once we’d returned to Doolin, the open farm we were excited to see turned out to be a children’s petting zoo instead of a real, working farm. Things were not going according to plan, but then we came up with an idea that saved the day – why not go hiking at Hag’s Head?
Hag’s Head is the southernmost point on the Cliffs of Moher. You can walk to it from the visitor center at the cliffs (about a 3-mile hike) or you can access it like we did – by parking less than a mile downhill and hiking up through farmland to get to the top. Parking was only €2 and I loved getting to see the cows up close. If you go this way, be respectful of the farmers who have been kind enough to open up their land and stay on the path they’ve provided. And I think it goes without saying, but don’t feed the animals without permission!
When we reached the top, we walked up to where the ruins of an old watchtower, built during the Napoleonic Wars to watch for enemy ships, still stands. From here, there is an unobstructed view of the Cliffs of Moher heading north to where we stood on them the previous day.
There wasn’t much left of the tower to speak of, but we were grateful for what little remained – although it was a sunny day, it was also a very windy one. The tower was our only shelter from the strong winds whipping across the Atlantic as we stood at the top of the cliffs. Before too long, we headed back down below where we’d have a bit more protection from the wind.
Below the tower is a short walking trail winding around Hag’s Head all the way to where it drops off at the very tip. We hiked this path and then returned to the start of it again where we found a comfortable spot on a grassy hill to sit and watch the sun go down. I don’t know how long we stayed – hours maybe? I lost track of time. That’s easy to do in Ireland.
Although Hag’s Head gets its name from its unusual shape resembling a woman’s head looking out to sea, there is also an Irish legend claiming that Mal, an old witch, in love with the Irish hero, Cú Chulainn, lost her life here as she chased her unrequited love off the edge of the cliff. Irish legends may just be stories, but I personally didn’t want to take my chances and find myself up here with old Mal after dark, so when the sun began to set, we reluctantly said goodbye to our peaceful spot on the grass and headed back to town.
If I could do this day again, I’d have stayed in Doolin and taken a boat cruise out to the Aran Islands for the day instead of traveling to County Galway, but at least we ended the day right! I highly recommend checking out Hag’s Head when visiting the Cliffs of Moher, especially if you’re looking to get away from the crowds closer to the visitor center and see the cliffs from a unique location!
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