POLICY ON ACCESS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE
Some specific access problems
This is by no means a complete list. By
their nature these problems can often disappear and re-appear for any or
no apparent reason, which further highlights the crying need for
legislation to allow access to the countryside.
If you are aware of any access problems not
listed here please advise us. Likewise, if you know that any of the
problems listed here have been solved please let us know.
Liscannor Old paths in the Burren
area blocked by farmers. We also have information of another case of the
blocking of access in the Burren brought to our attention by an American
Aughinish a local landowner attempting to
fence off a long-standing route beside Lough Derg.
The Cliffs of Moher Access to these
well-known cliffs, which are on the Burren Way, is now severely
restricted. Where once it was possible to walk considerable distances
north and south, ugly fencing and hostile signs now block the way.
Stoukeen Ridge and Duhallow Way south-west
of Millstreet. This affects a large area to the east of Caherbarnagh,
including Coomacheo and the saddle south of Kippagh Lough.
Sugar Loaf A walking route up the
southern side of this spectacular mountain in West Cork, described in
walking books as far back as 1978, and in a German language guide
'Wanderwege in Irland' in 1993 has been blocked off by the local
landowner. Cork county council has taken no action in spite of protests.
Gougán Barra The Gougane Barra circuit is
probably the most popular walk in West Cork, a high level route above a
spectacular corrie lake and close to stern cliffs, the latter
particularly prominent on the northern side. It first appeared in
walking guides in the late '70s and the last guide to be published was
in 1999. There have never been access problems in this area. However,
while recently attempting to do the walk clockwise from the Church on
the south side of the lake we encountered hostile notices (NO HILL
WALKERS) and farther on, lines of closely spaced intimidating fences. It
would appear that all the commonage has now been enclosed by these
fences. At the north-eastern end of the circuit we encountered more
barbed wire fences with NO TRESSPASSING and NO MALICIOUS DAMAGE TO MY
On reaching an ancient pilgrimage track to the Church in the valley
floor, a padlocked gate with barbed wire on top was across this track.
At this stage we decided to retreat and cross another high barbed wire
fence (we had great difficulty with this fence but had no alternative),
wade through a river and cross a field to the public road.
A particularly worrying feature of this problem is that it is very
easy to reach this route at its centre point from the State-owned
forestry area at the head of the corrie. Anyone doing so and heading
clockwise around the remainder of the circuit would have to cross the
high fences and a gate at the end of the circuit. If they could not do
so they might be tempted to retreat and descend around the cliffs on the
northern side of the valley. This could be hazardous since the cliffs
are intermittent at the various levels. Baltimore Access to former public quay.
Three Castles Head
This popular walking area has been barred to walkers by intimidating
signs claiming that the ruins on the headland are in a dangerous
condition. While this may be true we consider is that what is needed is
a disclaimer on the buildings themselves; the sign in its present
location seems to be a convenient excuse to block access. This has been
blocked off since 1998 at least.
Old Head of Kinsale
Day trippers and casual walkers can no longer walk the Old Head of
Kinsale, a traditional "lung" since at least the 1870s for
many people from the Cork area. The owners of the peninsula, a highly
scenic area long enjoyed by the public, have blocked access to the
entire Head. Their stance would have been much weaker had Cork Co
Council included a walk around the Head in their development plan. There
have been many major demonstrations by aggrieved locals and others, but
the end result has been that the Supreme Court has upheld the
Bluestairs Mountains Lough
Eske area (see letters page)
Slyne Head Caorán Mór, just west of
Connemara Golf Club
A large area around Slyne head has, for many years, been fenced off with
threatening notices: PRIVATE PROPERTY TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED on
a gate across what seems to be a public road along with a DANGER BEWARE
OF THE BULL sign on the gatepost. There was no bull that we could see,
no cattle, just sheep, and a horse. This is the only road down to the
end of the peninsula, about 2km away. Just above the foreshore there is
another sign NO ACCESS FOR PEDESTRIANS and beyond that lots of barbed
wire fences that eventually succeeded in preventing us going any
further. People are denied access to a large area and great views of
Slyne Head and its two lighthouses. We could see a fine-looking beach
beyond the barbed wire. There is also a holy well, Tobar Cháillín, and
the saint's "bed" which, according to Tim Robinson, "is
visited by hundreds of Connemara people on the 13th November every
year", St. Cáillín being the patron of fishermen in particular. I
wonder how they get in there?
Gleninagh Valley, Connemara
A beautiful valley, giving access to the Twelve Pins. According to Tim
Robinson there is a Bronze Age stone alignment in the valley, we
couldn't find it.
We parked on the main road and cycled up the valley because we had heard
that the landowner's problem was with walkers blocking the road and
gateways with their cars. There is a gate across what looks like a
public road. We cycled, then walked up the valley, met various people
who waved and said hello. When we got back down to the main road again a
PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING sign that wasn't there on our way in had
been put up!
I was again told by a local man that the landowners didn't really mind
people going up the valley but that the problem was with badly parked
cars. So why not put up a sign to that effect? This problem has been
ongoing for more than ten years
Bunowen Castle, near Doon Hill, about 4km
South West of Ballyconneely
A PRIVATE NO ADMITTANCE sign on the gate prevents access. We were told
the landowner doesn't want people climbing all over the castle because
it's in a dangerous condition, which is understandable, but why not put
up a sign to say this instead of NO ADMITTANCE?
Renville Point, Oranmore
There is a good path, a "Slí na Sláinte" , down to the Point
from the boat club, being used by hundreds of people the evening we were
there, but after the point the path becomes overgrown and is then
blocked at a PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING sign at the Galway Bay golf
club wall. Some local people told us we could get round by the rocks if
the tide was out but remarked that it was a pity the authorities hadn't
done the Slí na Sláinte path properly, it could easily follow the
coastline back to Renmore and Galway city. The Country Club Hotel has
been closed for several years, we were told.
Glaninchiquin The area at the end of
this valley in the Béara peninsula is the starting point for a popular
mountain walk, described in a Gill and Macmillan guide book as long ago
as 1978. This area has been 'developed' by the owners who are
over-punctilious about persons who wish only to gain access to the
mountain area and have no interest in the 'development'. The letter
quoted here is from a distinguished historian and writer. Both the
county council and South West Tourism took a serious view of this
incident and promised to contact the owner, but we have heard nothing
The Three Sisters There is a
magnificent stretch of sea cliffs in the very Northwest corner of the
Dingle Peninsula in West Kerry which has been accessible to the public
until recently. Aggressive and hostile signs specifically aimed at
excluding walkers have been erected by farmers in the village of
Smerwick and in the neighbouring villages of Fearran and Baile
Uachtarach Thiar, where the golf course and Dún an Óir holiday complex
are located. In the case of Smerwick, one sign was erected on a
telephone pole on the public road leading into the village and another
on a telephone pole at the end of the public road at the junction of two
farm roads, one which provides access to open commonage leading to the
cliffs of the Three Sisters Walk, i.e. the range of cliffs between Binn
Diarmada and Sybil Head. In the other villages the signs are erected on
farmland or on private roads accessing enclosed farmland covering all
points of entry to the cliffs . In these villages access is possible
only by crossing enclosed farmland and up to recently was permitted or
at least condoned by the farmers.
The effect of these signs is to bar public access to a cliff walk which
is at least comparable to the Cliffs of Moher in height and length and
could be regarded in its overall setting as one of the most impressive
in Europe. This is now in danger of being lost to walkers who to our
knowledge have enjoyed access to this area without hindrance for at
least forty years.
Following complaints to the Kerry County Council and Eircom, the sign on
the public road to Smerwick was removed, replaced and removed a second
time. The sign on the farm road in Smerwick was removed and replaced in
a less prominent place. All other signs remain in place.
The Great Southern Trail
by a local tourism group to develop 85km of the old railway line between
Limerick and Tralee, at present owned by CIE, is being frustrated by
local landowners, seemingly afraid of the disturbance that might be
caused by walkers. Such projects have been successfully completed in
other countries without causing local opposition.
Mullaghanattin The walk over
Mullaghanattin is part of one of the finest circular routes in the
south-west, a high-level walk offering magnificent views over the Ring
of Kerry and beyond. It is invariably included in walking guides of the
area. Walkers have been told by local farmers not to walk this route and
at least one group has been told to 'go back' even though this would
have meant facing mountain country at dusk in December. Local tourist
interests are concerned but powerless.
Lamb's Head Grid ref 549.579 -
Rath Strand and Pier
Rathcoffey Access to Rathcoffey
Castle, a historically important site and National Monument, has been
prohibited and a Trespassers will be Prosecuted sign has been erected.
Fifteen members of a local history group have received writs threatening
High Court action and a bill for hefty costs unless they withdraw a
claim that there is a right of public access to the castle.
Approach to Sramore and Keelogyboy mountains
in the Doons area. There is now an ICMSA notice here ending with
the words 'unauthorised entry is prohibited'. This route has been
included in at least one guidebook published about eight years ago.
Clogher Head A
track from the harbour to a holy well has been fenced off.
KIO has been in contact with the Office of Public Works about the
closing off of access to this monastic site.
Oghool BeachWhile primarily involving the blocking of a beach, this problem also
cuts off an important route access to Mweelrea, the highest and one of
the most spectacular mountains in Connaught.
In 1989 this popular beach near Louisburgh was illegally fenced off (the
area so fenced is below the mean high water mark and legally in State
hands). In spite of numerous protests, Mayo county council has never
done anything effective about the problem. KIO brought the case to the
Ombudsman, who directed that the council take urgent steps to re-open
the beach. Even though the landowner has now blocked off an informal car
park near the beach the county council has still taken no action.
Castlegal range. This is an
attractive range giving good views into Glencar and unusually it is not
plateau like on the tops. A route here has been described in at least
two guidebooks, the first of which was published as early as the late
'70s. There are now hostile notices on the first summit so that a route
intended as an article in Walking World Ireland had to be abandoned..
(See our letters page).
The bitter and long-standing dispute over access here has finally been
solved, according to civil servants who have spent years trying to
broker a deal. One central figure in the dispute, Andrew McSharry, who
likes to style himself 'The Bull', recently (Autumn 2009) told
journalists he now welcomes tourists and walkers.
One of the sweeteners to McSharry has been the construction by Coillte
of a new access road into his home beneath Benwiskin. This new road,
paid for by the Department of the Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs, can also
be used by walkers to go up or down Benwiskin peak. Threatening signs
have been removed and new looped walk signposts will soon be in place.
Culleenmore A fence has been erected blocking access to a popular beach
and sand dune area.
Tramore area -Metal
Man - on the coast near Tramore
Blocking of megalithic complex on hill near
Oldcastle. As well as being an important pre-historic site this
is the only hill walk for many miles around. The complex has been
blocked off and a letter to the appropriate Government Department
County WicklowClose to the church in Laragh on the approach to
the Brockaghs. The well-walked route runs within 30m of a house
being refurbished and the owners are determined to stop walkers. This
problem is currently under discussion
Approaches to Croaghan Moira near
Glenmalure. There are hostile signs here and we are keeping the
situation under review.
Two long-standing tracks in Glencree have been blocked and, were it not
for locals who were prepared to take the case to the High Court, would
have been irrevocably lost.
A track to Lough Dan
beautiful route known as Archer's Lane, which was used by generations of
strollers and hill walkers, has been blocked.
Glencree A crucial walking route
across the Glencree Valley has been lost to public use after a property
developer successfully appealed a Circuit Court ruling declaring the
route to be a right-of-way. Another even more important route is
currently the subject of a High Court battle between a wealthy local
landowner and the local Enniskerry Walking Association.
Wicklow Head Constant
problems on eroded path between cliff and golf course.
If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
below is a full list of existing Heritage Officers which we are led
to believe will be increased to thirty six.
Buildings, Athy Road, Carlow
Road, Ennis, Co. Clare.
4276891 (County Hall)
SWRA, Inismore, Ballincollig, Co.Cork
Planning Section, County Buildings, Prospect Hill, Galway.
an Chontae, Tralee, Co. Kildare
House, Carrick - on - Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
O'Connell Street, Limerick.
Offaly County Council, Courthouse, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Development Centre, Cleveragh, Co. Sligo
Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
Hall, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Westmeath Co Co, County Buildings, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.
Hall, College Road, Galway.
If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at
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