Beautiful Castlegoland Beach is situated near Narin/Portnoo in West Donegal.
The primary access route to Castlegoland Beach is the pedestrian and vehicular access by public road (ID LS 7543-2) which runs to a public right of way which in turn traverses a golf course. This public right of way has been in continuous use and existence for longer than living memory. The second ever County Development Plan in 1980 (no copy exists of the 1st Plan from 1967) shows clearly this public right of way to Castlegoland Beach. It is also marked in the roads schedule from 1930 and on a deed of conveyance from 1867.
The golf club which owns the golf course was taken over in 2018 by Knather Acquisitions Unlimited Company after the golf club ran into debt. In June 2019 Knather Acquisitions Unlimited Company erected a locked gate on the public road which in turn obstructed the public right of way to Castlegoland Beach.
Knather Acquistions also erected electric fencing around part of the golf course, including around 6 acres of public land beside Castlegoland Beach.
An action group, Save Our Beach At Castlegoland, was formed to campaign against these obstructions. Donegal County Council were notified by the action group in July 2019. After a number of years of inaction, Donegal County Council finally issued a warning letter May 2022 indicating that the gate was erected without planning permission. It took until November 2022 for the gate to be taken down. In the interim an illegal sand berm was constructed by Knather Acquisitions blocking the public right of way. In addition, Knather Acquisitions parked a road roller obstructing the road to the public right of way.
In October 2019 and in response to a section 5 request from Save Our Beach at Castlegoland, Donegal County Council declared the newly erected fencing was not exempt from planning permission.
In January 2023, a Planning Retention Application (ref 2350097) was submitted by the director of Knather Acquistions Donegal County Council for five developments (including the fencing) carried out at Narin and Portnoo Links in 2018 and 2019. A large number of objections to this retention application were received by Donegal County Council. Individual members of the community and regular visitors to the area submitted that they have used this public right of way for generations. The Save Our Beach at Castlegoland and Keep Ireland Open campaign groups outlined many other reasons why these developments should not be allowed. Two statutory bodies also submitted objections, particularly relating to the lack of information and analysis of the impact on the natural environment.
On 26th April, 2023 Donegal County Council issued their decision (Notification of Final Grant) to refuse retention permission for four out of the five developments. One of these was an electric fence which had blocked access to the beach. This is to be removed. The Council’s decision also stated that, “The gate and associated steel posts located north of where the Public Road terminates (L-7543-2) and shall be kept free of obstruction for a radius of 15 meters within the subject site.”
The unauthorised developments, in particular the gate, gate-posts and the road roller which has been blocking the public right of way to Castlegoland Beach, were due for removal on 26th May. However, to date, these developments have not been removed. Save Our Beach at Castlegoland have written to Donegal County Council calling for enforcement of its own decision.