Another broken poor body, a suicide, was spotted last month in the roiling and raging and cruelly fanged surf which always froths and surges around the toes of the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast.
There were more than a million visitors to the world-famed Cliffs last year alone. The annual figures are soaring every year despite the recent recession.
The Cliffs of Moher are the most powerfully striking and memorable of all our tourist attractions. That is why they are one of the most popular of all.
I have stood on the stone lip of the mighty Cliffs many times down the years. I am always silenced and awed by the elemental majesty of them. They are truly spectacular. As we say above at home in the North, “They take the talk away from you.”
Sadly too, each time I visit, the phrase about “the Terrible Beauty" flies into my mind like one of the arcing herring gulls soaring above the seas and the stonelands.
Because it is a truth down the years that the Cliffs of Moher, too often for too many, are the last sight they see in this world. There has been a significant suicide toll as one of the realities of this awesome place.
I did not see the body in the seas at the base of the Cliffs. It was, I learn, the body of a woman believed to be a local. I do not know if she died by accident or suicide. I cannot say one way or the other, God rest her.
I have been told that some clothing, possibly her clothing, was found atop the Cliffs after the body was sighted far below the viewing area. I do know for certain, however, that, as has often happened here before, recovery of the body was extremely difficult for the recovery services involved. Because of a heavy swell and bad weather conditions neither the rescue helicopter nor the lifeboats could reach her for more than 24 hours.
As I said I do not know the precise details of this death, but it is a sad fact that as a reporter I have covered four or five definite suicides at the Cliffs in the last quarter-century.
I have seen two bodies, both of females, being tossed and tumbled about amongst the rocks and surf for, on one occasion, two days before they could be recovered.
One poor lady was wearing a red sweater. I will never forget the sight of it. Subsequently we learned she had travelled down to Moher on a tour bus from Dublin.
She was described as a lovely, gentle middle-aged lady who chatted with the passenger sitting beside her on the journey and shared a bar of chocolate too. She was not missed from the group until they were leaving the area.
She left a note behind her with her overcoat and handbag. Other cases I reported on were generally similar.
It would be a terrible way to leave this world. There would not, I think, be a long, clean fall from the edge of the Cliffs to the sea below. This is because the rock face significantly bulges outwards about a third of the way down.
Any faller, whether accidentally or deliberate, would be smashed horrifically against the rocks and would be dead before striking the surf line and the fanged rocks below. One shudders to think about the realities of the last seconds of life under such circumstances.
The viewing area today is professionally railed and protected. I remember the era when that was not the case, and one could walk freely to the very edge of eternity. I did that too in my youth and shiver now at the risk that was involved.
I think I am writing this at the beginning of another tourist season not just to praise and hail the modern tourism amenities at the Cliffs of Moher and to state categorically that viewing them is a must for any tourist, but also maybe to suggest to those among you who say prayers to any Higher Being that, during your awed stay, and you will be deeply moved, it would be appropriate to utter a silent prayer for those who came to Moher and, for whatever reason, never left alive.
I recall speaking with a Cork taximan inside the last decade. He told me the tale of arranging with a very pleasant young man on his Cork rank one morning to take him to nearby Lahinch up in Clare meet a friend. The fare was agreed in advance and they had a pleasant journey, chatting all the way to Lahinch.
When they got there his fare paid up, adding a tip too, and asked him to wait for a minute before leaving until he checked if his friend was in the cafe where they had agreed to meet. He emerged after a minute or two, said his friend had gone ahead of him to the Cliffs of Moher, would he bring him on that short trip. Again the fare was agreed in advance.
When they arrived in the Moher car park the young man paid in full, thanked him for the journey and, on getting out of the taxi, handed the cabbie an almost full bottle of drinking water with the remark, "You can take this. I won't be needing it.”
The jocular tone suggested he would be going with his friend to the pub to drink something stronger than water. He was not though. His broken body was found in the churning white and green surf below the Cliffs the following evening.
Visit Moher, yes, and savor the wonder of it all. And make sure you leave safely when one of the most memorable days of your Irish holiday is done.