Glencree Court Case (Walker V Leonach)
Confusion 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 Association.
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
Updated : Feb 25th 2012