KIO 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.

County Clare

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 tourist.
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.

 

County Cork

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 PROPERTY signs.
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 landowners' claim.

 

County Donegal

Bluestairs Mountains Lough Eske area (see letters page)

County Galway

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.

County Kerry

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 more.

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 An attempt 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

County Kildare

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.

County Leitrim

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.

 

County Louth

Clogher Head A track from the harbour to a holy well has been fenced off.

County Mayo

Lankill, Westport
KIO has been in contact with the Office of Public Works about the closing off of access to this monastic site.

Oghool Beach
While 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.

County Sligo

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).
Benwiskin
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.

County Waterford 

Tramore area -Metal Man - on the coast near Tramore


County Westmeath

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 remains unacknowledged.

County Wicklow
Close 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  along a 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 info@keepirelandopen.org


Listed below is a full list of existing Heritage Officers which we are led to believe will be increased to thirty six.

County Council Telephone No. Heritage Officers Address
Carlow (0503) 70300 Lorcan Scott County Buildings, Athy Road, Carlow
Clare (065) 6821616 Congella Maguire New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare.
Cork (021) 4276891 (County Hall) Sharon Casey C/o SWRA, Inismore, Ballincollig, Co.Cork
Galway (091) 509000 Marie Mannion Forward Planning Section, County Buildings, Prospect Hill, Galway.
Kerry (066) 7121111 Una Cosgrove Áras an Chontae, Tralee, Co. Kildare
Leitrim (078) 20005 Bernie Guest Governor House, Carrick - on - Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
Limerick (061) 318477 Tom O'Neill 79/84 O'Connell Street, Limerick.
Laois/Offaly (0506) 46800 Amanda Pedlow C/o Offaly County Council, Courthouse, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Roscommon (0903) 37100 Nollaig McKeown Courthouse, Roscommon.
Sligo (071) 56666 Siobhan Ryan County Development Centre, Cleveragh, Co. Sligo
Tipperary (NR) (067) 31771 Siobhan Geraghty Courthouse, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
Tipperary (SR) (052) 25399 Brendan Mc Sharry County Hall, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Longford/Westmeath (044) 40861 Gerry Clabby C/o Westmeath Co Co, County Buildings, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Wicklow (0404) 20100 Deirdre Burns County Offices, Wicklow.
City Council Telephone No. Heritage Officers Address
Dublin (01) 6722222 Donncha O Dulaing Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.
Galway (091) 536400 Jim Higgins Town Hall, College Road, Galway.

If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at info@keepirelandopen.org

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