Lissadell owners insist no historic 'rights of way'
TWO hundred years of documentary evidence on historic Lissadell House in Sligo does not contain a single item showing that the Gore-Booth family dedicated public rights of way over the estate, the High Court was told yesterday.
Sligo County Council (SCC) was claiming such a dedication occurred at the beginning of the 19th century but there was no record of that, the court was told by counsel for the owners, barristers Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy.
Gabrielle Gore-Booth, whose family owned the estate for 400 years, had at one stage in 1956 closed off all four gates to the estate, an action not suggestive of any belief by her of a right of public access, argued Brian Murray, for the couple.
A letter in 1969 from Aideen Gore-Booth stating that her father Jocelyn had opened the estate to the public after 1900 and the public had rights of way since over three avenues in the estate had to be seen against a background where the Gore-Booths were very anxious to secure funding for maintenance of the roads in the estate, counsel submitted.
The claim that public rights of way were dedicated from 1900 was "utterly implausible" on several grounds, including their location and extent as it was alleged the rights of way went right up to the house and crossed every principal avenue.
Lissadell House, he argued, was built so as to maximise the privacy of its inhabitants.
He was outlining some arguments of the owners at the resumption of their action before Mr Justice Bryan McMahon over whether there are public rights of way on certain roads through the estate.
The couple claim they cannot operate it as a tourist amenity if public rights of way exist.
The owners claim the documents disclose no dedication of public rights of way but the council disputes that.
Ms Cassidy and Mr Walsh, with addresses at Morristown, Lattin, Naas, Co Kildare, and Lissadell, are seeking orders and declarations four routes in the estate are not subject to public rights of way.