Landowner wins court fight over right-of-way after 'decade of misery'
A LANDOWNER last night was celebrating a declaration that there is no public right-of-way on his property, after "10 years of misery".
Joseph Walker, from Glencree Road, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, successfully sought the ruling that about 500 metres of his lands were not subject to public access.
Mr Justice John MacMenamin ruled yesterday that the route is not a public right-of-way.
However, he said that the case, which lasted 11 days and had incurred costs that could potentially ruin the parties involved, "had broken up long- standing friendships".
The ruling was welcomed by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) which said that farmers had become "increasingly concerned" at attempts by people to impose rights-of-way where they did not exist.
However, Mr Walker failed in his attempt to bar "the whole world" from entering the land because the court said it did not have jurisdiction to make the ruling.
The case followed a dispute with Neil Lenoach and Noel Barry, members of the Enniskerry Walkers Association (EWA).
The EWA was formed to promote the opening up of old roads and rights-of-way for the benefit of the public.
Mr Justice MacMenamin noted that third parties, not the defendants, had carried out "intimidatory and unlawful" actions on the land including taking down fences and notices, lighting fires on pathways and deliberately destroying trees.
Mr Lenoach and Mr Barry, the two defendants, argued that there was a public road in the disputed area since 1760 known as the Old Coach Road.
They claimed the right-of-way on the land was halfway between Enniskerry and Glencree and that Mr Walker was wrongfully obstructing them.
Mr Walker, whose family acquired the lands in 1945, argued no such road existed.
The judge said his order only applied to the defendants in the action, but did not apply to others. This was because Mr Walker never sought to join other people as parties to the case.
In a statement Rosemary Scallan, solicitor for the two walkers, said that while they were disappointed, they felt that Mr Walker had "lost" the case against them. She said that some of the rulings sought by Mr Walker were dismissed, including damages for trespass against her clients, and an injunction barring them from coming on the land.
However, last night Mr Walker dismissed claims from the other side that he had lost the case. He told the Irish Independent that he was pleased with the case's outcome but that he was disappointed that it had to take place at all. "It's been 10 years of misery," he said.
The landowner wanted to make it clear that he supported hill walking.