Who we are
Keep Ireland Open is a voluntary body composed of concerned
individuals and a large number of bodies interested in the outdoors and
the environment. These bodies include An Óige, the Catholic Guides of
Ireland, the Irish Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association, Irish Rural Link, the Federation of Local History Societies,
the Friends of the Irish Environment, Scouting Ireland and many more clubs and
What we do
Keep Ireland Open is the only national voluntary organisation
campaigning for the right of recreational users to responsible access to
the Irish countryside, whether mountains, seashore, lakes, rivers,
historic monuments or other natural amenities.
We are campaigning for clearly-marked legal rights of way, mainly
in the lowlands. and the legal right to roam freely in more remote and
upland areas. We also campaign against barbed-wire fencing, especially
prevalent in the West, which is both unsightly and denies access.
Our primary goal is legislation to
give recreational users the right to access our countryside.
Our role is to lobby Government, politicians, tourism interests
and other bodies to protect and enhance access to the countryside.
We have written articles and had letters published in the national
and local press and argued our case repeatedly on TV and radio.
We have recorded and publicised areas where access is barred,
researched the much more favourable status of access in other European
We have taken a case to the EU complaining against Ireland's
excessive use of barbed-wire fencing (this case is ongoing but so far
We also try to resolve access disputes as they arise, (though with
limited numbers of active members we can deal with only some of the
simpler cases). Our approach is to resolve these disputes in the early
stages and so avoid a hardening of attitudes and entrenched positions.
However, we have not the resources to tackle all cases that arise. This
should properly be the role of local authorities or tourism interests.
We monitor all local authority development plans and make
submissions with regard to rights of way - a huge task. We also publish
a quarterly newsletter and maintain this website.
KIO - a short history
KIO was initially formed 1994 by a group which included farmers in
the West of Ireland - among this early group was our present President
Jackie Rumley - in response to the fencing off and sub-division of 2,400
acres of commonage. A High Court Case and an Oral Hearing of An Bord
Pleanála in Castlebar resulted in successfully preventing the fencing
off of this commonage.
As a result of this the group began to meet with hill walkers and
realised there was no group speaking out for walkers' rights.
KIO has since dedicated itself to the preservation and creation of
rights of access to the countryside. This includes rights of access to
our mountains, lakes, rivers and coastal areas.
Presently, KIO is primarily an umbrella organisation that brings
together the various recreational bodies that share the same aims. In
addition we have many individual members and the validity of our mandate
has been gradually recognised by the authorities and we are increasingly
being consulted directly by government and local authorities on access
and related matters.
KIO is an independent, voluntary, non-party political,
As you will see in the following pages, recreational users have
minimal rights to access the countryside. It is only by determined and
sustained lobbying and campaigning that this situation can be reversed.
We hope you will look at these pages and then consider contributing.
Don't leave it to someone else!
Keep Ireland Open is not just for
dedicated hill walkers. It is for all who want to access our
countryside, be they walkers, ornithologists, archaeologists,
historians, canoeists, anglers - just as has been achieved in other
countries decades ago.
We need members to show that there are people who care about access. It
is essential to show that we have a strong body of support when we talk
to politicians. We need help in our work.
If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at
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