Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Crystal Clear in Waterford

Last fall, we were in a group that traveled abroad on a Shades of Ireland tour, focused on that country. Befitting the trip name, a major portion of our travel was an 8-day motor coach tour through Ireland. A previous post highlighted a couple of Ireland's most notable features, its green colors and castles This one spotlights one of its best known imports — Waterford Crystal.

Waterford, an Irish brand dating back to 1783, is celebrated worldwide for its crystal products. Renowned for meticulous craftsmanship and innovative designs, its luxury crystal pieces are featured in the most prestigious events and households.

Waterford Crystal was first established in 1783 on land adjacent to Merchants' Quay in the heart of the harbor town of Waterford, near the present day House of Waterford Crystal. It was founded by brothers George and William Penrose, who opened the first glassmaking factory in Waterford, where their crystal was immediately recognized for its clarity and purity of color. They enjoyed success into the 1800s. In 1853 after 70 years of operating, the Penrose brothers' glass making factory was forced to close.

What most folks don't know is that Waterford Crystal isn't made mainly in Ireland, but has been outsourced to Eastern European countries. Most Waterford crystal is produced in countries including Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. Waterford is still at the forefront of exquisitely designed, expertly crafted creations. 
The House of Waterford is Waterford’s flagship store, located in the heart of Waterford city in Ireland. It showcases the company's key values of craftsmanship and lets visitors to experience the beauty of Waterford from initial concept to final product.  

This location contains a manufacturing facility that melts over 750 tons of crystal a year and produces more than 45,000 pieces annually using traditional methods. The visitor center has the world's largest collection of Waterford Crystal. Since its June 2010 opening, over 1 million people have visited the facility on guided factory tours. This was one of the optional excursions on our tour.
The first stop on the tour was the mold room which highlighted the ancient art of mold making. Master Blowers shape molten crystal with the use of wooden molds and hand tools, a technique that has remained unchanged through centuries.

Waterford's Master Craftsmen possess exceptional talent. Each must complete an 8-year apprenticeship to learn each skill required for the production process before mastering these techniques through decades of perfection. Their hand craftsmanship, precision skill and artistic excellence are core components to transform raw materials into luxury crystal. Interestingly, all of these craftsmen were male; no females were seen throughout the factory tour, aside from in the retail showroom..   
After a display of molds, the tour continued to the blowing area, where crystal shapes were formed using molds. Master Blowers, as shown above, transformed glowing balls of crystal into shapes before putting them in a 1400-degree furnace. 
Crystal is inspected at each stage of production to ensure that each piece meets exacting standards. There are six inspection areas; only pieces meeting the standards advance to the next stage of production. Failed items are crushed and melted with other crystal making ingredients.
Next came the most interesting area, at least to myself, the marking department is where crystal was marked with a temporary geometric grid to assist a Master Cutter to cut the pattern onto the crystal. We learned that each crystal piece is cut strictly from memory, the lines act as a guideline for precision and accuracy. 

The cutting department is where Master Cutters apply many of the skills learned in their extensive apprenticeship. Amazingly, each pattern must not only be learned but memorized by the cutter during the training, no matter how detailed. Both skill and dexterity are needed to cut patterns. Exact pressure must be applied to make the cut without damaging the integrity of the piece. 
The sculpting department is where pieces of crystal created by the Master Sculptors start out as solid blocks of crystal. Master Craftsmen add intricate detail onto the crystal with sculpting wheels, which transforms blocks of crystal into elegant shapes and figures.
Some examples of sculpting designs
The Master Engraver uses copper wheels to engrave intricate designs onto trophies and limited-edition pieces. This process can take days to complete dependent on the design size and complexity. The type of copper wheel engraving used at Waterford Crystal is called Intaglio, meaning reverse. The deeper the engraving on the crystal, the more prominent and pronounced the detail.
Crystal available for sale in the retail store
The tour ends, as most do, in a shopping area. This 12,000 square feet retail store gives visitors a chance to remember their visit by a purchase to take or ship home. The retail store represents Waterford's entire catalogue of luxury crystal, including an exhibition of world sports trophies.

There were no purchases made there; however, on another day, I bought a piece of Waterford made of glass instead of crystal, but much more affordable.
Waterford penguin in glass (not crystal)
You can readily see why this piece held a certain appeal. It has a prominent place on one of our living room bookcases. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Friday Funnies

Here's a couple of shaggy back seat drivers seen on roadways in recent weeks.

This canine looks like he/she was really keeping a close watch on traffic.
And, this one seems to have been quite focused on looking out the rear window.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We're in Bar Harbor, ME, celebrating the 27th anniversary of our 1st date

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Friday Funnies Reveal

It was quite interesting to read everyone's comments on the "What is This" construction shown on the most recent post (Friday Funnies) and below.
There was some very interesting feedback. The most popular "guesses" were some sort of walkway/promenade followed by handicapped ramp and even one for a wheelchair races ramp (thanks, David G.) and mini railway (thanks, Boud) and boat dock (thanks, Erika). Several folks admitted that they had no idea.
Yes, this will be a ramp for handicapped access and replaces a metal stairway that had previously been in its place, but was not as long.
Handicap ramp under construction near Cotton Mill apartments
It is adjacent to the Cotton Mill apartment building which is directly across the Nashua River from Clocktower Place mill apartments. Construction is expected to take two years to complete.

This bridge over the Nashua River connects the two mill apartment buildings and is also a walkway for the river walk. This ramp under construction is the second ramp; the first one is shown below.
Ramp and stairway near Clocktower Place apartments
This ↑ ramp and a metal stairway are next to Clocktower Place apartments. Instead of being a straight run, the ramp is a switchback type as there is an access road behind it.

The new ramp is not the only construction that's been going on in the mill yard area in recent weeks. The pocket park area known as Le Parc De Notre Renaissance Française, popularly called French Park or Renaissance Park, is undergoing a complete transformation. A pocket park is a small park accessible to the general public. The locations, elements, and uses of pocket parks vary, the common defining characteristic of a pocket park is its small size. 
Start of construction in Renaissance Park

The first photo above was taken soon after work started and the second photo a day later shows the brickwork, sidewalk and asphalt being taken out.
The boxed item in the photos is this ↑ sculpture (La Dame de Notre Renaissance Française) created by Christopher R. Gowell of a young mill worker and her son. It stood in the center of the park and has been boxed up for protection during reconstruction.
Ongoing construction work at Renaissance Park
The above photo shows what the site looked like last weekend. We will be away for a couple of weeks on our first road trip of 2024 and expect it will look much different by the time we're home.
A conceptual design of a renovated Renaissance Park
According to project plans, the renovations to Renaissance Park will include a permanent performance space and more recreational opportunities.The projects are part of the Downtown Riverfront Master Plan, which is part of the Imagine Nashua Master Plan. Estimates of the total cost of the renovation projects ranges from $13.6 million to $19 million. 

Living so close to this renovated park, a short walking distance from the mill apartments, we're looking forward to its completion, hopefully within the next few months.

We're away on our first 2024 road trip, which will include stays in Maine (Brunswick and Bar Harbor) before continuing to St John in New Brunswick and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. In ME, we'll re-connect with former VA friends and celebrate our 1st date anniversary (27 years ago). In Canada, we're meeting fellow bloggers for the first time. Any other blogger(s) within these areas also interested in meeting, please contact us via the blog email. We're checking email on our adventures.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Friday Funnies

There's construction going on in the mill yard right near Cotton Mill, another one of the mill apartment buildings. 

Here's a couple of photos on what's been happening there in recent weeks.
Here's another view which might give you a better idea. 
Do you know what this will be when completed? No, it's not a ski ramp.
Go ahead, take your best try. There's no judgement here; reveal shown in the next post.

Enjoy Your Weekend Everyone
We're getting ready for a road trip next week

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Voices from the Past

1835 Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua cemetery.
We toured a local historic cemetery over the weekend. No, we didn't hear any voices or see any spirits, but learned about the history of Nashua, NH, and some of its notable residents through 18 re-enactors dressed in period attire.
Notable Nashuans: Voices from the Past was designed, hosted and conducted by the Nashua Historical Society as a journey through Nashua history within the grounds of the 1835 Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua cemetery. 

Nashua Historical Society logo
This wasn't a spooky, haunted or interactive tour, but a historical one. Its purpose was to present information on the lives and legacies of some of Nashua' most notable residents who played pivotal roles in shaping the city's identity, from community leaders to many others. It offered participants a glimpse into bygone eras while standing near their final resting places. 

As non-natives of Nashua, NH, we appreciated learning more about its history. And, as members of the Nashua Historical Society, we attend as many of these events as possible.

Founded in 1870, The Nashua Historical Society is a volunteer run, independent, non-profit organization which receives no operating support from the state or the City of Nashua. The Historical Society's motto is Preserving the Past for the Future. In support of this, the society collects, preserves and interprets materials related to Nashua history.
Partial view of Unitarian Universalist cemetery
The cemetery, located behind the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua was developed in 1835 when the city's founding fathers, many who were church members, realized they would need a place to be buried. As a result, many of Nashua’s prominent families were buried in the cemetery which now holds much of the city's history.

The Unitarian Church was formed in 1827 as the First Congregational Society in Dunstable, now Nashua, NH, and many of Nashua's founding civic leaders attended it. Congregationalism in the U.S. consists of Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition that have a congregational form of church government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England. The First Universalist Society was founded in 1818. During the 1830s, the two congregations worshiped together before merging.
Re-enactors portrayed notable Nashua residents of the past
The tour consisted of two timed loops at 1 and 3 pm, participants could select one or both (as we did). Volunteer re-enactors adorned in period attire were stationed at nine selected cemetery plots along each of the two tour loops. Going on both tours, we saw and heard 18 re-enactors. Each location featured vignettes about the person, spoken as if they were able to be here to share their stories. 

Before beginning the tours, participants were able to view several funerary items courtesy of a local funeral home. The items on display were an 1840s sleigh hearse, antique Gleason cooling table and a vintage transfer basket. 
Cooling table produced by B.F. Gleason company
The cooling table was a perforated wooden platform on which a dead body would be temporarily stored and prepared for a funeral. Ice was placed beneath it to keep the body chilled and to slow the decomposition process. The tables were also used for the embalming procedure when the holes acted as drainage during the preservation and removal of liquids. 
Ad for Gleason table (Internet source)
B. F. Gleason of Brockport, NY, sold these folding, portable cooling tables countrywide. The tables folded up small for transport. During the Victorian era, funerals would have been held within the home of the deceased who more often died at home where their body would remain until interment. This type of cooling table would have been placed over large blocks of ice and cool air would go through holes in the table to preserve the body.

Wicker coffin or transfer basket
Wicker coffins or transfer baskets were used to store bodies before being they were moved for burial or while waiting for a doctor to pronounce the individual dead. In the Victorian era and post Civil War these coffins were used for viewings, where guests would come to pay final respects to the deceased while the body was placed in the coffin “on view.” Wicker coffins were used up until the 1930s for removing bodies from crime scenes, before bodybags became associated with that task. There’s a current movement in funerals towards “natural” burial options that include wicker coffins. 
A sleigh hearse for winter funerals
The sleigh hearse was something we had never seen before but, since this is New England, it seems that it was very practical for funerals held in winter weather.

Re-enactor at cemetery tour
The condition of the cemetery walkways required caution with uneven terrain and some steep steps. Participants were advised in advance that they should be able to stand for an hour or more The tour was not wheelchair accessible and proper footwear was encouraged as well

Abbot headstone
Funds raised by The Nashua Historical Society from this event will be used for ongoing efforts to preserve the memory of Daniel Abbot considered to be the Father of Nashua because of his many contributions to the city.

For many years, Abbot was the most prominent resident in Nashua, NH. Born in MA, he graduated from Harvard, studied law and was a fellow student of Daniel Webster.  A leader in town affairs and politics, he served as the first president of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad, president of the Wilton Railroad, first president of the Nashua Bank and was an officer of other city banks.  

Abbot was also a co-founder and first president of the Nashua Manufacturing Company, now Clocktower Place Apartments where we currently reside. He was one of the chief supporters of the Unitarian Universalist Church. In 1804, he moved into a home on the corner of what is now known as Abbot Street.
Views of re-enactors and tour participants
We enjoyed this historical tour which highlighted many of the historical Nashua names we have heard about and especially the connections to Nashua Manufacturing Company. This June, the Nashua Historical Society will be unveiling a new exhibit titled World War II in Nashua — The Home Front and Beyond. We're looking forward to attending that event; the historical society always gives an excellent and informative series of presentations.

Your Turn — Do you have a similar historical society in your area?

Friday, May 3, 2024

Friday Funnies

Have you ever misplaced a shoe or boot? 

Maybe not, but it seems that's what's happened to some folks judging from these photos of lost footwear, all taken over the past few months. Several were found in Nashua, NH, most in other locations while out and about.
All of these images were taken in situ (original place) with no manipulation by me to pose the footwear. Where they were discarded or lost is exactly how they are presented, whether perched on a large rock or leaning by a tree as shown below. Several seemed to be in fairly good condition, which only added to the question of why discarded?
It's not only footwear in the form of shoes that were found, but some misplaced sandals too, including a mateless one that was floating in the nearby Nashua River.
But. these discarded boots made me recall a 1966 tune popularized by the daughter of a legendary vocalist. Can you name the song and songstress?
Did you guess, These Boots are Made for Walking ? A tune written by Lee Hazelwood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra? It charted in January 1966 going to number one on both the U.S. and UK charts. The song title was said to have come from the line, They tell me them boots ain't built for walkin', said by Frank Sinatra (Nancy's dad) in the 1963 comedy-western 4 for Texas.

The story goes that Hazlewood had planned to record the song claiming it was not a girl's song. Ms. Sinatra reported told him that it was perfect for a little girl (namely her) to sing. Her recording was done with the help of LA session musicians, the Wrecking Crew including Chuck Berghofer on double bass. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company used portions of the song for its 1960s ad campaign promoting "wide boots" tires. Nancy Sinatra unsuccessfully sued Goodyear, claiming that it had violated her publicity rights. In 2020, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

I re-watched the Boots songs music video which (thankfully) will not be included in this post. Trust me if you've seen it, you will thank me for this exclusion.
Instead, here's the final very exuberant scene from an all time favorite of mine (maybe you as well), the 1984 film, Footloose, which featured many dancing shoes. This film was a box office success and the year's seventh highest-grossing ($80 million). The title song by Kenny Loggins was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song losing out to I Just Called To Say I Love You from the romantic comedy The Woman In Red

In a comment, David G. said he didn't understand why shoes were often tossed over power lines and neither do I. Checking online, one of the most common urban legends is that it marks gang territory or a location where drugs are sold/bought. But, there's no proof that this is true. Other explanations range from memorializing someone who has died to celebrating a job, promotion or graduation. Certainly, someone, somewhere has tossed shoes over power lines for perhaps one of these reasons, but no one is sure about any one specific reason.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We''ll be on a historic cemetery tour with the Nashua Historical Society

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Fueled Up for Summer?

Welcome to May. Warm weather is finally coming — time for planting, fishing, opening doors, stowing winter gear, patio  sitting and dining, setting up grills and switching from winter to summer gas in your car.
Internet source

OK so that last item may sound confusing as it was to me this week, but it's true. As the season goes from winter to summer, car fuel changes. Usually, this semi-annual switch of winter to summer gas goes unnoticed by most motorists, except at their next fill-up.

I never understood about this seasonal gas changeover, until reading a news article this week, and learned (a lot) about it.

Filling a car's gas tank costs more in summer months (here in the U.S. I'm not sure in other countries). Today, the average U.S. gas price nationwide is up about 15 cents from the past month. That's not demand leading to higher pump prices — it's all about the gas.

Why not continue using cheaper winter gas? It's because the so-called winter gas contains a cheaper ingredient, butane, that helps cold weather starting. Summer gas contains a more costly ingredient, alkylate, which is better for hot weather driving. 

Most of us are familiar with the use of butane as lighter fluid and an ingredient in fuel for gas grills and camping. As a fuel, it's less costly than other gas components; however, its high volatility limits how much can be included in summer car fuel.

Another factor leading to the higher gas cost is that refineries are switching from the winter to summer gas supplies and doing maintenance, which, in turn, reduces the fuel supply.
Internet source
U.S. environmental regulations require that gas sold in summer months be less susceptible to evaporation. That requires refiners to replace evaporative gas components with ones that have the opposite characteristics which can be more expensive, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This switchover happens in March and April. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires refineries to have a summer blend in their system by May 1. Gas stations must comply by June 1. Refineries produce than 14 types based on different state regulations. Because of this production takes longer, the overall yield per barrel is lower, and motorists can pay up to 15 cents more per gallon in summer months.
Internet source
Why does summer gas differ from winter gas? Here's what I learned. Winter fuel has a higher Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), a measure of how easily fuel evaporates at increased temperatures. This means that it evaporates easier in colder temps, letting cars start faster. If the fuel didn’t evaporate fast in cold temperatures, a car engine would start hard and run rough (which no motorist would like)To achieve this, refineries blend winter gasoline with butane, an inexpensive additive with a high RVP. 

Most of us are familiar with the use of butane as lighter fluid and an ingredient in fuel for gas grills and camping. As a fuel, it's less costly than other gas components; however, its high volatility limits how much can be included in summer car fuel.

Once summer temperatures heat up, high RVP gasoline can evaporate faster which can lead to increased emissions, ground level ozone and air pollution (smog). That's why U.S. federal law restricts sales of gasoline with an RVP greater than 9.0 psi from June 1 through September 15.

To comply, refiners reduce the amount of butane in the gas with pricier additives, leading to
higher gas prices in summer. This blending process also takes longer adding to the cost.
Some states set lower summer RVP standards to further limit emissions. California has a 7.0 psi limit. Due to the state’s climate, refiners can sell summer gas as early as April 1 and as late as October 31. Other U.S. cities such as Phoenix, AZ, extend summer fuels into the fall. Also, during emergencies that cause fuel shortages, the EPA has relaxed its rules. 

Internet source
So what's the good news? Better MPG. Cold weather and winter driving conditions reduce fuel economy which, in turn, can reduce mileage as gas blends in winter contain less energy than those in summer. According to the EPA, the summer blend has 1.7% more energy, so, your MPG could be better in summer months to offset some of the added cost when filling up.

Also, gas costs are expected to level off as the winter to summer gas change is done and not expected to rise much in coming weeks. The average price of gas in the U.S. today is about is $3.66 per gallon. Currently, the average price per gallon in NH is about $3.57.

These figures are well below the highest U.S. gas prices. In California, a gallon of regular gas is priced at an average of $5.40 per gallon, followed by Hawaii, Nevada, Washington and Oregon at between $4.50 and $4.81 per gallon. The country's lowest gas prices are in Mississippi, Colorado, Oklahoma Louisiana, Arkansas averaging from $3.10 to $3.20.

In case you consider these costs high,, they're not when compared to international gas costs: residents of Hong Kong pay the highest gas prices with 1 gallon averaging $11.43 followed by Iceland at $8.91 and Monaco at $8.49 per gallon just a few examples.

Summer Driving Tips. According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), there's ways to lessen the higher cost of summer gas by following a few driving habits to conserve fuel: Keep tires properly inflated; avoid rapid acceleration and braking; use cruise control for highway driving when it’s safe to do so.

Now I know something new to me, and so do you.

Your Turn — Have you also noticed an increase in gas prices in your state?

Friday, April 26, 2024

Friday Funnies

In the past few months, I've done several posts showing vanity plates and am still finding so many new ones for future posts.

Recently, I came across this car which. although it didn't have a vanity plate. had a lot of other things from bumper stickers to window stickers.
Seems like this car owner wanted to give equal space to everyone and everything.
My car has no stickers and Patrick only has a couple related to ham radio.

How about you? — any bumper or window stickers on your car?

Thanks to all for your comments on my post about environmentally friendly laundry and cleaning products. I plan to order wool dryer balls and microfiber cloths in the next couple of weeks.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
May is here next week and flowers are starting to bloom in Nashua, NH

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ireland's Famous Cliffs

Last fall, we were in a group that traveled abroad on a Shades of Ireland tour, focused on that country. Befitting the trip name, a major portion of our travel was an 8-day motor coach tour through Ireland. A previous post highlighted a couple of Ireland's most notable features, its green colors and a few castles This one spotlights its best known cliffs..
Ireland's most famous Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher were a spectacular sight even on the overcast day we visited. The cliffs are considered among the most amazing ones worldwide. They are the most famous and popular in Ireland being consistently named as a popular visitor attraction.

That's because although many people believe the Cliffs of Moher are the most popular overall tourist attraction in Ireland, that's not true. We learned from our tour guide that in recent years, it has ranked at number two in the list of top fee-paying attractions which include the Dublin Zoo and the Book of Kells. One
 attraction that's been first in popularity isn't even a natural wonder, yet it's no wonder that it's so popular. The Guinness Storehouse in St James’s Gate, Dublin relates the history of Ireland's most beloved beer and includes a sampling room.

Popularity aside, seeing the Cliffs of Moher was a visually spectacular highlight of our Ireland tour. These sea cliffs are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They tower over the rugged coast and attract millions of worldwide visitors. Their natural beauty has inspired artists, musicians, and poets also scientists, naturalists and geologists. 
The Cliffs of Moher, another view
Did I mention that the cliffs are incredibly large, rising to a height of 702 feet at the highest point and stretching over 8.7 miles. Like other visitors, we were awed by their sheer size. 

How were they formed? Rock formations that make up the Cliffs of Moher began to form during the Upper Carboniferous period from about 359.2 to 299 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Era. The term, Carboniferous, is from England in reference to rich deposits of coal there.) I'm not versed in geology. This information is from online sources. 

The formation started when the region was far closer to the equator than it is today. Around this time, a landmass was located to the southwest of an ancient marine basin. Heavy rainfall on this piece of land caused massive floods that washed sand and mud into rivers that flowed northeastward to the sea.The sand and mud was dumped into the sea at the mouth of a delta. In the millions of years that followed, the sediments became solid rock. And due to the movement of the earth’s plates, these rocks began to move further north — establishing the Cliffs of Moher as they are today.
Rock layers visible at the Cliffs of Moher
The advanced age of the cliffs is visible in bands of sandstone, siltstone, and shale. Each rock layer tells its own history representing a particular event in the story of the ancient delta. These rock formations can be seen above sea level. However, without sunlight when we visited, these were more difficult to see..

Puffins at the cliffs
Since 1989, the cliffs have been designated as a Special Protection Area for birds andhosts major colonies of sea birds. Some 20 species of birds nest or live on or near the cliffs, including razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes and falcons making it 
one of the country’s most important bird-breeding sites. 

The Cliffs take their name from a ruined promontory fort, Mothar, demolished during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s, to provide material for a signaling tower at Hag's Head. The word Mothar in old Gaelic means the ruin of a fort, so it should be named The Cliffs of the Ruined Fort, which doesn't have quite the appeal. 

Cliffs of Moher, Hags Head (Internet source)
The rocks
 at Hag’s Head are thought to form the profile of a woman gazing out to sea.  According to folklore, the name,
 Hag's head, is from a legend about a sea-witch Mal of Malbay who was infatuated with the Irish war hero, Cúchulainn. The story is that she chased her love to the cliffs and while he leapt to land safely, Mal followed, lost her footing and fatally crashed onto rocks. 

Tourism at the cliffs is not something new. Towards the 16th century, tourism was generated largely by travel promoters (not unlike today). Ireland was a less popular destination than other European locations. However, Irish travel journals from the 1780s and on have been found with entries describing the beauty and ferocity of the cliffs.
O'Brien's Castle was built in 1835
One of the cliff's popular attractions is O'Brien's Tower, a round stone tower that marks the highest point of the cliffs and is located midpoint of the cliffs. Its looks like a small medieval castle, which is deceiving as it was actually built in 1835 by local landlord and Member of Parliament Sir Cornelius O'Brien in response to a growing tourism market targeted toward English visitors who frequented the cliffs. Initially it served as a teahouse, featuring a large round table with seats of ironwork, none of which is there today.

O'Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, the first High King of Ireland, built the tower as part of a larger investment in making the Cliffs of Moher accessible, safe and attractive to visitors. The plan was to charge visitors for a better viewpoint from atop the tower. O'Brien thought the tower might benefit the local economy. His expenditure in this venture made him popular among his tenants, who were given employment when little else was available.  

There are two paths near the visitor center, the official one being set back a little for safety, while an unofficial path runs closer to the edge. In July 2016, the Cliff Walk, outside the official Cliffs of Moher amenities, was temporarily closed because of the risk of rock falls.

Through the placement of several signs, people are now warned to stay on the official path further off the cliff edge instead of the unofficial seaside trail. Injury and even casualties from visitors straying off the trail continue to be a problem despite the caution signs and other prevention initiatives.

The visitor center, The Cliffs of Moher Experience, was built into a hillside to enable visitors to experience the cliffs without the intrusion of man-made amenities. 
The Cliffs of Moher Experience visitor center was built into a hillside
The €32 million (34,203,520 in USD) facility was planned and built over 17-years from the 1990s to 2007 when it opened. Exhibits include interactive media displays covering the geology, history, flora and fauna of the cliffs. A large multimedia screen displays a bird's-eye view from the cliffs, and video from underwater caves below the cliffs.There are two cafes and several shops. The center was planned to be environmentally sensitive in its use of renewable energy systems including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels and grey water recycling.

Some films shot at the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher have become a recognizable landmark on the big screen and canboast celebrity status serving as the dramatic backdrop for many movies, TV series, music videos and promotions. 

Some bigger movies filmed here include: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Princess Bride, Into the West, Leap Year, Hear My Song and The Mackintosh Man. The sea cave from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows was filmed near O’Brien’s Tower. Our DVD collection includes Harry Potter films. We may re-watch these to check out this location.

If you've come this far, Thanks for traveling along. There's a couple more future posts about our Ireland trip including — crystal and whiskey.