Public gets right of access to exclusive golf clubhouse
Envioronmental and countryside rights groups are seeking clarification on the implications of a court decision involving access to one of Ireland's most exclusive golf clubhouses.
The Old Head of Kinsale golf club, which is operated by Ashbourne Holdings in Cork, has been granted an ordinary publican's licence for its clubhouse.
The licence means the public now have a right of access to the clubhouse.
However, 10 years ago Ashbourne fought a protracted legal battle over claims of public access rights to the Old Head.
Walkers and countryside rights groups had insisted there was a public right of access to the Old Head, which boasts spectacular views over west Cork.
Ashbourne won the legal battle, which was fought all the way to the Supreme Court. The judges ruled there was no public right of way.
However, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) said it was now seeking clarification of the implications of the decision regarding the granting of a publican's licence.
"For clarity, we are writing to Cork County Council under the planning acts asking about (any further) implications," said FIE spokesman Tony Lowes.
The Old Head has ranked as one of Ireland's most private and exclusive golf courses since it opened in 1997.
Until now, the clubhouse operated with a private or club bar licence and access was usually restricted to members or their guests.
However, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin in Cork Circuit Court, was asked to grant the Old Head an ordinary pub licence.
This means members of the public are entitled to enter the clubhouse and request service.
Ashbourne director Margaret O'Connor gave an undertaking that the club gatekeeper would direct anybody entering the grounds to the clubhouse.
Ashbourne said that only protesters would be denied access to the golf course.