Recent issues

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  

If you are aware that any of these issues have been  resolved please send us information about it.


Hollywood Co Wicklow

The N/W route up Sleievcorragh(Scalp Rock) is very heavily fenced. In addition, an irritable farmer followed a small group of walkers as they were descending south east to the road.


Brackloon Wood

We are happy to report a win. The main entrance to the lovely oak wood at Brackloon - 7 kms along the Leenane Road from Westport, Co. Mayo - had been illegally blocked by an adjoining property owner. Boards had been nailed across the gates and the an outside wall (shown here) built.
The wood is written up on Google and gives a useful insight into its environmental significance.
It has taken the two and a half years since late Summer of 2016 to get this far, but the desired result has at last (April 2019) been achieved. The main frustration has been in trying to animate the bodies who share responsibility to defend public access - Mayo County Council and Coillte.

Before :  Main entrance to Brackloon Wood, illegally blocked by Concrete wall and gates chained


After : Walls removed, at last, by Coillte and entrance re-opened on

foot of an order of the circuit court

Access dispute back before the court

The case arises out of a dispute between a wealthy accountant and landowner, Joe Walker, and locals who insist that a route across Mr Walker’s land in the Glencree Valley is an old roadway and as such, a public right of way.

Mr Walker took a High Court action against two members of the local Enniskerry Walking Association who went on a club walk along the disputed route. 

The case was before the courts repeatedly for two years before it received an 11-day hearing late in 2011. In February 2002, the High Court granted Mr Walker an injunction preventing the two defendants from entering his land but refused to grant any wider order barring the public.

During the hearing, the two defendants, school teacher Niall Lenoach and pensioner Noel Barry, produced more than a dozen maps, some of them 250 years old, which appeared to show the route as an old road. Nevertheless, Justice John McMenamin ruled that under existing Irish law they had not shown that there was a public right-of-way because they did not have evidence that any landowner had ever dedicated the route to public use.

A number of thorny questions arise from this judgment, not least the question of costs.

Counsel for Mr Walker has said that the ruling by the judge that there was not a public right of way means he won the case and should be entitled to costs.

Counsel for the two defendants claim they were acting in the public interest in trying to protect access which had long been enjoyed by the public. They argue that making them pay even a portion of the costs would ruin them. 

Campaigners for improved public access have long pointed to the ruling as a perfect example of why the law on access in Ireland must change. Almost all Irish access law is based on 18th and 19th Century English law which has never been updated.

Campaigners like Keep Ireland Open point out that the level of evidence showing the route as an old roadway would have been accepted without question as proving the case there being a public right of way in almost any other European jurisdiction – including England, which has completely reformed the property laws on which Irish law is still based.

The appeal of the case, Walker vs Lenoach and Barry, will be the subject of a one-day hearing at the Four Courts on Tuesday Jan 16th in the Court of Appeal at 10:30. We ask all our supporters to be present if possible

South Dublin Rights of Way  

South Dublin County Council are considering listing public rights of way in the County.

If you or your club walk in this county the only way that to  preserve this right of access in the future is to have the routes listed and mapped. The fact that you have no access problem with a particular route at the moment doesn’t mean that this route will always remain open.

Routes, unless they are listed as public rights of way, can be closed by landowners without their having to give a reason and without notice. Furthermore landowners have the right to summarily eject you.

If you want to preserve your rights for the future you should highlight the route on OS Map 50 and 56 or EWM The Dublin Mountains and send a photocopy to Cllr Francis Duffy 39 Stocking Lane Dublin 14.  We strongly recommend that you should use the EWM, 

Only those routes which are wholly or partly within the County should be sent.


1  A right of way must be specific route it cannot be just a vague reference to access to a particular mountain area.

2  A right of way must physically exist to-day. A totally overgrown or developed route cannot be resurrected.

3  You must be able to say that you or your club have used this route either at the present time or up to recently without being physically prevented from so doing. Even if the landowner has erected a Keep Out sign this can still constitute a right of way.

4   Much of the mountain areas in the County belong to Coillteand are open to access under their access Open Forestpolicy. It can’t be assumed that this Policy will continue especially if the company was to be privatised. Also, more and more forestry is being developed by private landowners who certainly don’t have Coillte’s benign attitude to walkers. So, you should include access routes through forestry.

5  County boundaries: South County Dublin is bounded by Dublin City, Fingal, Kildare, Wicklow and Dun Laogaire Rathdown.

The Borders with Wicklow and Kildare are clearly defined on the OS maps but not so the others.

Dublin City boundary is all suburbs

Fingal boundaryseems to follow the Liffey W to the Border with Kildare at Lucan Demesne.

DLR   Starting at the Wicklow border on the Military Road( R115) it goes N between KilakeeMtn and GlendooMtn, goes E of CruaghMth and  continues N down the Owendower river to Tibradden Car park on R116, then goes N just E of road to Rockbrook then NE under M50, then E along College Rd, then through Marlay Park to Grange rd. The remainder of the boundary till it meets the City boundary is through suburbs.


Francis will be submitting the first tranche on Sept 20. Others can be added later.

For assistance or further information contact Roger Garland at 01-4934239 or mail to:


Meet the neighbours

SWEDEN: Allemansrätten or "everyman's right" gives Swedes a right to enjoy nature everywhere, except in private gardens, close to people's homes and on cultivated land. 

FINLAND: Finns have their own "everyman's right", although  they call it jokamiehenoikeus. It gives people the right to walk, ski, cycle and camp anywhere in wilderness areas and forests. 

GERMANY: Access rights reflect the Germans' love of forests. They have a right to roam freely in forested areas, as well as unenclosed land like heats and marshes. 

AUSTRIA: Freedom to walk and run in Austria's forests is enshrined in federal law. Rules about access above the treeline vary from state to state. 

SWITZERLAND: The Swiss have a right to roam under their Civil Code, which extends to forests and pasture land, whether private or publicly-owned. 

IRELAND: There's no legal right of access to privately-owned land in the Republic, and that includes uncultivated uplands.

( The above is an extract from a recent issue of Walk Magazine )

Updated : Mar 16th 2015


Lissadell judgment

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 ruled.

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.

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.
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 conduct.
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 possible.
The Lissadell judgment spells the end for those who argue that Irish law on access is workable. What is needed now is swift and radical reform.

Updated Dec  5th  2013



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.

Contact details for Councils:

Carlow: Forward Planning Dept, Athy Road, Carlow. email:

Kerry: Marguerite Enright Planning Dept, Co Buildings Rathass, Tralee. email:

Cavan: Forward Planning Farnham Centre Farnham St Cavan. email:

Kilkenny: Director of Services, Planning, John St Kilkenny. email:

Longford: Forward Planning, Great Water St Longford. email:

KIO Contact: Roger Garland 43 Butterfield Drive Dublin 14. Ph:01-4934239

 Updated Nov 6th  2013

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 2013


Meath County Council maps 24 rights of Way

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 county".
For further info contact Roger Garland at 01-4934239 or 085-7222915

Updated  8th Jan 2013


Co Cavan

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 off.

Please send details to Roger Garland at  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  or phone 01-4934239.
Please  note the replacement of existing fencing is of no interest.

Updated : 15th Nov 2012


Recent access problems reported by our members

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 quay.

Waterford - Metal Man - on the coast near Tramore.

Sligo -  Ben Bulben

Donegal - Bluestairs (see letters page). 

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)

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




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