Ireland has a varied coastline, but a basic distinction may be made between westerly shores exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and the more sheltered east coast. Actively eroding cliffs are widespread along the west coast, for example at the famous Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare and at Croaghaun on Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

At Slieve League in Co. Donegal, the cliffs reach heights of over 600 metres. Along the south coast of Co. Cork lies the spectacular Old Head of Kinsale, where just a thin neck of land now joins the resistant sandstone headland to the 'mainland'.

Active erosion is also taking place at Killiney, Co. Dublin, around Bray Head in Co. Wicklow, and at Blackwater in Co. Wexford (where the soft boulder clay materials along the shore are highly vulnerable). But long beaches also feature along much of the much less indented east coast, most notably along a great stretch that runs from the Raven at Wexford Harbour north to Cahore Point in south Wicklow.

Any statistic for the length of the coastline depends on the detail withwhich it is measured. However, an estimate offered by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland puts the total length around Ireland at 3171 kilometres.

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