This page has been
designed to highlight recent access issues reported to us by our
members. If you have recently become aware of an access problem you can
report it to us at email@example.com
If you are aware that
any of these issues have been resolved please send us information
The law delivered by the Supreme Court in the Lissadell judgment is
not only bad law. It is very old, bad law. The test of dedication by a
landowner has been abandoned in just about every other country where it
used to apply - simply because proving it is too onerous.
It is often said by judges that the courts deliver the law rather
than justice and that is certainly the case in the Supreme Court's
ruling in the Lissadell case, which was handed down on November 11.
The logic of this woeful judgment is that it is now virtually
impossible in Ireland to prove that a route is a public right-of-way
exists across land unless you have a written dedication from a
previous or current landowner deeming it to be so.
Showing that the public used a route over the years, which many
lawyers and citizens had until now held to be sufficient to prove a
right to public access, simply will not work, the Supreme Court has
Even Mountaineering Ireland, a group famously supine when it
comes to the issue of public access, now admit that "the bar has
been set too high" when it comes to asserting a public right of
access along a route through their having used it unhindered for a
long period. The mouse has roared at last.
Meanwhile, we in Ireland continue to apply the same tired old
English law that the English themselves reformed in 1932, 1948 and
2000 to such a degree that it is scarcely recognisable from the
creaking statutes which we inherited from them in 1922 and that our
witless politicians still regard as fit for purpose.
If the impossibly high test of dedication applied in the
Lissadell judgment were to be asserted nationally, there is scarcely
a public right-of-way left in Ireland, other than the public
highways. What this absurdity underscores is the desperate need for
legislation in this area. At the very least, the kind of legislation
proposed in the Dail by Labour TD Robert Dowds in June, which would
make it possible to assert public rights-of-way by showing useage.
A much better solution would be to adopt the kind of open access
laws which work so well in the Scandinavian countries and in
Scotland, which protect the public's right to cross private land
almost anywhere other than private gardens and environmentally
protected areas - subject to their conforming to a strict code of
However, in the meantime as an interim measure, the Government
should retrieve Robert Dowds' Bill from the Environmental Committee,
where Environment Minister had consigned it for a slow death by
drowning, dust it down and push it through the Dail as quickly as
The Lissadell judgment spells the end for those who argue that
Irish law on access is workable. What is needed now is swift and
LISTING OF PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY
These are proceeding very well and a number of
Co Council have commenced listing.
They are looking for information on walking
paths traditionally used by the public. If you have any suggested routes
you should send a photocopy of an ordinance survey map with the route
highlighted. Also please send us a copy so that we can follow them up.
Please note that these are being done on a
county by county basis not nationally, but you don't have to be resident
in the county to make suggestions.
details for Councils:
Planning Dept, Athy Road, Carlow. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marguerite Enright Planning Dept, Co Buildings Rathass, Tralee.
Planning Farnham Centre Farnham St Cavan. email: email@example.com
of Services, Planning, John St Kilkenny. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forward Planning, Great Water St Longford. email: email@example.com
Contact: Roger Garland 43 Butterfield Drive Dublin 14.
Access to Benbulben from Barnarobin on the
west side of Benbulben
As reported in the Irish Times on Aug 25 the
Sligo Co Co are seeking evidence of the existence of a public right of
way. We are asking anyone who has used this route in recent times to
contact the Co Co at 071-9111205 - John Owens
for a questionnaire form.
Updated Sep 2nd
Meath County Council maps 24 rights
Keep Ireland Open, the only national organisation,
lobbying for better access to the countryside has welcomed the adoption
of the new six year plan for Co Meath which contains a list (with maps)
of 24 public rights of way. Meath is the first county to honour their
obligation under the 2010 Planning Act. The Plan also provides that
further rights of way will be added from time to time.
Chairman Roger Garland said that: " This is a
win/win situation for recreational users and landowners as it defines
tracks where people have a legal right to use which should mean that
accidental trespassing on private property will soon be a thing of the
past. We expect that as well as providing an important recreational
facility for residents it will assist in promoting tourism in the
For further info contact Roger Garland at 01-4934239
Updated 8th Jan 2013
We are reviewing the Co Cavan county
development plan which should include a list of public rights of way. Please
advise us of any traditional paths to amenities, archaeological sites,
National Monuments, mass paths and access routes to the countryside
which are open for access and also traditional paths which have been closed
Please send details to Roger Garland at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone 01-4934239.
Updated 24th Nov 2012
We wish to thank members of the public and our
members for sending us info about the fencing of areas previously open
to access for recreational purposes.We are compiling a list of these for submission to
the EU Commission. We are sure that there are many more areas being closed off.
Please send details to Roger Garland at email@example.com
or phone 01-4934239.
Please note the replacement of existing fencing is of no interest.
Updated : 15th Nov 2012
Recent access problems reported by
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.
Louth - Clogher Head - A track from
the harbour to a holy well has been fenced off.
Wicklow - Wicklow Head - constant
problems on eroded path between cliff and golf course.
Portal Dolmen at An Oige Hostel at Glencree
Kilkenny - Laneway from the Sion Road
to the river Nore.
Access from Brandon Hill from the Graig to New Ross Road (R705)
No access to National Monuments :
Augustinian Abbey at Callan & St Mary's Medieval Church at Uske
Kerry - Lambs Head - grid ref 549.579 -
Rath Strand & Pier
Cork - Baltimore - Access to former public
Waterford - Metal Man - on the coast near
Sligo - Ben Bulben
Donegal - Bluestairs (see letters
N.B. Our letters page has been re-ordered so that the most recent
letters are at the top.
Updated : 6th Sept 2012
Glencree Court Case (Walker V Leonach)
over old road judgment
A judgment has finally been given in the old road case, which has been
before the High Court for more than three years.
The ruling by Justice John McMenamin has caused widespread confusion. The
Judge threw out claims by landowner Joe Walker for damages and for
injunctions. He also dismissed allegations of assault.
However, the Judge ruled that there is no public right of way along the
old roadway. He then went on to say that this ruling did not apply to
the public but only to the two defendants, Niall Lenoach and Noel Barry,
respectively the Chairman and Secretary of the Enniskerry Walking
The Judge took this view because Walker, the plaintiff, had not enjoined
the Attorney General. He ruled that without the AG representing the
public interest, no ruling against the public could be made.
Significantly, the Judge called in his judgment for changes in the law as
Ireland is operating on the basis of ancient English statutes that have
been updated in England and Wales to clarify
how rights-of-way can be established.
Nevertheless, his judgment underscores yet again how it is almost
impossible under the law as it stands to claim a public right-of-way.
Niall Lenoach said after the judgment: “We had a huge amount of
evidence in this case which showed clearly that the route was an old
road and had been used for centuries by the public. If the logic of this
absurd judgment were extended nationally there would scarcely be a rural
footpath left in the country.”
The judgment means, according to Michael Forde SC, that any member of the
public is free to walk along the route as the ruling that there is no
right-of-way only applies to two people. “Mr Walker will have to start
all over again in the courts if he wants to stop people using the route
in the future,” he added.
An expanded report on
the case will appear on this website and in the KIO newsletter following
the Judge’s ruling on costs on
Feb 25th 2012
If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at
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