A FARMER who demolished two ancient ring forts must pay fines and penalties of €20,000.
Patrick Desmond (41) was convicted on two counts of failing to notify the Department of the Environment of planned works on two ring or fairy forts at his recently purchased holding in Macroom, Co Cork.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard the dairy farmer would never have gone ahead with the work had he realised protected structures were involved.
Judge Donagh McDonagh fined Mr Desmond €5,000 on each charge and directed that he pay a further €2,500 on each charge to the Department.
He also ordered Mr Desmond to make a €5,000 contribution to Barnardos. The fines and penalties total €20,000.
Mr Desmond, of Curraghclough, Lissarda, Co Cork, said he did not realise the structures involved fairy or ring forts.
He also said he was totally unaware that the circle of boulders, some 2m high and 30m in diameter, were recorded national monuments.
Mr Desmond farms 485 acres spread across six holdings.
He had just bought his sixth farm at Kilmurray, outside Macroom, and said he was merely trying to clear scrub from the land a short time after the purchase in July 2009. The farm was sold for a reported €1.3m.
Mr Desmond said he has been involved in farming since childhood and had never heard of a landowner getting into difficulty over scrub clean-ups.
The trial heard that, as a consequence of the work, he has already lost €27,000 which was subtracted from his Department of Agriculture single farm payment.
The farmer said no-one had brought the structures to his notice during the purchase proceedings.