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Irish: Aill an Daill; The Blind Man's Cliff.
Ballyreen Cliffs or Ballyreen Point
Sea cliffs near Ailladie - - 1342633.jpg
An Falla Uaigneach, the sea cliffs section at the southern end of Ailladie
Map showing the location of Ailladie
Map showing the location of Ailladie
Location of Ailladie in Ireland
Nearest city6 km south of Fanore
8 km north of Doolin
RangeThe Burren
Coordinates53°4′22.83″N 9°21′14.64″W / 53.0730083°N 9.3540667°W / 53.0730083; -9.3540667Coordinates: 53°4′22.83″N 9°21′14.64″W / 53.0730083°N 9.3540667°W / 53.0730083; -9.3540667
Climbing type
Heightcirca 35 metres above sea level at its peak
PitchesSingle pitch
  • D to E7
  • Little below VS
  • Majority above E1 5b
Rock typeLimestone
Quantity of rock
  • +200 routes online database
  • 170 routes 2008 guidebook
  • Roadside Parking
  • No Facilities
  • No Fresh Water
Cliff aspectWest
ElevationAt sea level
Classic climbs
  • Gallows Pole (E2 5c),
  • Kleptomaniac (E3 6a),
  • Skywalker (E3 5c),
  • Wall of Fossils (E4 6a),
  • Refraction (E5 6a),
  • The Cutter (E4 6a),
  • On Reflection (E6 6a),
  • Ouicksilver (E5 6a),
  • Siren (E3 5c) Ailladie

Ailladie (Irish: Aill an Daill; The Blind Man's Cliff) is an 800 metre long west-facing limestone sea-cliff, varying in height from 8 metres to 35 metres, on the coast of The Burren in County Clare, Ireland. It is one of Ireland's most highly regarded rock-climbing locations. It is also a location for shore-angling competitions, and, with its cliffs and view of the Aran Islands, a popular photography stop for tourists. The cliffs are also referred to locally, and by anglers, as Ballyreen Cliffs and Ballyreen Point, which is an anglicised version of the name of Ailladie's local townland: Irish: Baile Uí Rinn; Ring's homestead.[1][2][3]


Ailladie is hidden from view, just off the R477 road, 1.5 km before the road turns inland and south-east to Lisdoonvarna. The Ailladie car-park (grid M0901102910) is marked on online maps and is opposite the Stone Wall section of the cliff (see Ailladie map below). Beside the car park, to the south, is the smaller rock climbing crag known as Ballyryan (climbers can be seen on the Ballyryan rock face by the passing R477 traffic). Access to the base of the cliff is only possible without abseiling at the northernmost end, where there is a 3–metre roped fisherman's descent to Ailladie's base, which is a large limestone platform.

The cliff straddles the Clare townlands of Ballyryan (southern section),[4] and Crumlin (northern section).[5]

Rock climbing[edit]

Climber on The Cutter (E4 6a), Mirror Wall, Ailladie

Ailladie's northern half covers the sections known to climbers as the Dancing Ledges and the Aran Wall,[6] and sits above a large rock platform making it accessible, via the 3 metre roped fisherman's descent (a grassy ramp at the northernmost end of Ailladie), regardless of tides. Ailladie climbers also use the climber's descent area at O'Conner's Corner (10 metres, Diff).[7] The Dancing Ledges is the lowest section of Ailladie with several climbs of 10–15 metres.

The first part of Ailladie's southern half is Mirror Wall (mostly graded E4–E7), and it is accessible by boulder-hopping at low-tide, although many abseil down to the start of the climbs. The remainder of the southern half of Ailladie, the Stone Wall, An Falla Uaigneach, and Boulder Wall sections, require abseils. The impressive An Falla Uaigneach sector is often into a hanging belay, and offers high-grade deep water soloing ("DWS") at grade 7c+, but with 30 metre drops.[8]

Layout of Ailladie (incl. parking). The grey area at the Fisherman's Descent are the northern limestone ledges used by shore-anglers

The rock is limestone, of good clean blue/grey quality and mostly hanging in a sheer vertical form. Its texture is described as "varies from smooth, in the few small areas recently exposed by rockfall, to a sharp popcorn texture which provides excellent friction".[9] Most climbs follow steep narrow finger-crack lines, and protection is usually good.[10] The last guidebook, published in 2008, lists 170 climbs (the current Ailladie online database, see below, has over 200), nearly all single-pitch, with grades up to E7 6c. Most Ailladie climbs are at and above, E1 5b grades; there is little quality below VS 4c grade. The lower sections of some routes, and the climbing grade, can change due to the movements of large boulders in sea storms,[10] hence why many Mirror Wall climbers start from a hanging belay (see Mirror Wall photograph).

The middle sectors of Ailladie. On the left is the Aran Wall sector (with its distinctive dual square blocks halfway up the wall), with most climbs at E2–E5. To the right is the inset sheer Mirror Wall, with most climbs at E4–E7. The last prominent black corner visible on the right is the classic early Ailladie route, Pis Fliuch (grade HVS/5a, 1972).

The climbing potential of Ailladie was discovered in August 1972, when it was visited by a group of Dublin climbers.[11] Word of its quality spread and development began in earnest. Since then, Ailladie has remained at the "cutting edge" of Irish outdoor traditional rock climbing, along with the dolerite Fair Head cliff in County Antrim.[12][10] UKC describes Ailladie as "Best coastal limestone in the world! Fact!"[13] Ailladie, and the smaller nearby climbing crags in The Burren area, are the only on-shore limestone rock climbing locations in Ireland; the others are mainly granite, sandstone and dolerite.[14]

Visiting climbers either camp in the fields above the crag (however, there is no fresh water source), or stay at one of the many hostels in the surrounding villages (particularly Doolin for nightlife and additional bouldering,[15] or Fanore for serviced camping grounds). There are several nearby inland 10–20 metre high limestone crags with many graded rock climbs, especially in the grades below VS, that are within walking distance (e.g. Ballyryan), or a short driving distance (e.g. Murroughkilly, Aill na Cronain and Oughtdarra), from Ailladie; however, these do not have anything like the quality or popularity of Ailladie.[16]

Shore angling[edit]

Looking south through a small zawn into Ailladie's Falla Uaigneach cliff-section, with the southerly ledges used for shore-angling after it.

The limestone ledges at the base of Ailladie's cliffs (at the far north and far south ends), are regarded for their shore-angling and are described as providing "superb bottom fishing".[17] Anglers know the area as Ballyreen-south of Fanore, and several of the rocks have numbers painted on them for shore-angling competitions.[17] Ballyreen is noted as one of the few shore-angling locations in Clare where sharks (porbeagle and blue), and conger eels have been successfully landed.[18]

Because of the proximity of these low limestone ledges to deep Atlantic waters, the ledges have seen several fatalities over the years of anglers who caught by sudden swells and large waves, and carried out to sea.[2][19][20]


As well as rock-climbing accidents (there are no recorded rock climbing fatalities at Ailladie), and shore-angling fatalities,[2][19][20] Ailladie's sea-cliffs also attract tourists. Unfortunately, there have also been a number of tourist fatalities over the years from falls at the cliffs.[21]

Climbing bibliography[edit]

  • Torrans, Calvin; Stelfox, Dawson (1984). Rock Climbing In Ireland. Constable. ISBN 978-0094653207.
  • Torrans, Calvin (1986). Rock Climbing Guide to the Burren. Mountaineering Council of Ireland. ISBN 978-0902940079.
  • Torrans, Calvin; Sheridan, Clare (1997). Climbing guide to the Burren. Mountaineering Council of Ireland. ISBN 0-902940-12-0.
  • Owens, Peter (2008). Climbs in the Burren and Aran Islands. Mountaineering Ireland. ISBN 0-902940-21-X.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ballyryan Townland, Co. Clare". 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Ballyreen Point". Doolin Coast Guard. 7 November 2009. A person had fallen into the sea from the rocks at Ballyreen Point while sea fishing, the sea was quite rough at the time with high waves and strong winds
  3. ^ "Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Wild Atlantic Way from Galway". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 13 November 2018. Turning right at Ballyvaughan, your local, driver guide will take you south following the Wild Atlantic Way along the coast of Clare, via Black Head, Fanore Strand, and the baby cliffs of Ballyreen.
  4. ^ "Ballyran Townland, Co. Clare". 2018.
  5. ^ "Crumlin Townland, Co. Clare". 2018.
  6. ^ Rob Greenwood (10 June 2017). "Outline of Ailladie's 5 Sectors: Dancing Ledges, Aran Wall, Mirror Wall, Stone Wall, An Falla Uaigneach and Boulder Wall".
  7. ^ "Ailladie: Climber's Descent and O'Connors Corner (Dancing Ledges Sector)".
  8. ^ "Colm Shannon's Deserted DWS Heaven - Irish West Coast's Ailladie". 7 August 2016.
  9. ^ Torrans, Calvin; Sheridan, Clare (1997). Climbing guide to the Burren. Mountaineering Council of Ireland. ISBN 0-902940-12-0.
  10. ^ a b c Rob Greenwood (27 June 2017). "Ailladie, the Burren - Ireland".
  11. ^ Paddy O'Leary (2015). "The Way That We Climbed". The Collins Press.
  12. ^ Michael Reardon (climber) (9 July 2007). "IRISH VISIT: Ailladie (Burren, Co. Clare)". The following day brought me to one of my favorite climbing areas on the planet — the great sea cliffs of Ailladie.
  13. ^ "Ailladie (Burren, Co. Clare)". 2018.
  14. ^ "Rock climbing in Ireland". 2018.
  15. ^ Peter Owens (2008). "Doolin Bouldering" (PDF). Mountaineering Council of Ireland.
  16. ^ "West Clare Crags". 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Fishing in Ireland: Galway Bay & North Clare". Angling Ireland. Retrieved 13 November 2018. There is superb bottom fishing from the rocks at Ballyreen where ray, conger, dogfish, bull huss and plaice are common. Garfish and wrasse can be caught while float fishing, pollack and mackerel to spinners. Occasionally tope will take a bait here and porbeagle shark have also been landed. Ground close to the shore and rocks is very weedy and broken. However, a cast of 60 to 70 Metres will land bait on clean ground. As at Black Head, this area is a popular venue for anglers and the rocks have numbers painted on them for club competitions.
  18. ^ "Clare: Ballyreen". SEA-ANGLING-IRELAND.ORG. Retrieved 13 November 2018. Ballyreen This is yet another rock platform mark that demands care and attention. It will require a drop net to land the bigger fish. Species & Techniques: Bottom fishing onto mixed ground will produce thornback ray, dogfish, bull huss and conger eels ... and reputedly it also produces Flatfish including a fair share of plaice. The conger eel fishing in the autumn 2004 has been reported as exceptional with lots of fish over the 13 kilo (30 lbs) specimen mark. There is a very foul bottom close to shore but it moves to sand from 40-50 metres out. This is one of only two marks in Clare (the other being Green Island) from which shark (porbeagle and blue) and tope have been successfully landed, but landing large fish off the cliffs is not a simple task.
  19. ^ a b "Woman drowns after being swept out to sea in Co Clare". Irish Times. 10 July 2016. A 53-year-old woman has drowned after being swept out to sea by a wave in north Clare on Sunday morning. [...] The woman was part of a group that had been fishing at Ballyreen, south of Fanore.
  20. ^ a b "Anglers return to Ballyreen as search continues for missing Latvian man". Clare Hearald. 8 October 2013. The 42-year-old father-of-two from Latvia had been fishing for mackerel at an area known locally as the Fisherman's Climb at Ballyreen near Fanore.
  21. ^ "Search called off as body lost in Ballyreen is found in Salthill". Clare Champion. 26 January 2017. Drone technology had been deployed during the week in the search for the 22-year-old who was reported missing after he failed to return to his tour bus which had stopped at Ballyreen, on the Wild Atlantic Way, between Fanore and Lisdoonvarna, at the designated time of departure.

External links[edit]