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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Lissadell owners block access to safeguard home

Anita Guidera

RUSTED metal poles wrapped in barbed wire flank the driveway around the historic Lissadell House in the aftermath of a recent High Court ruling.

The owners of the former home to Countess Markievicz, have introduced the security measures to safeguard their property after a High Court judge ruled that public rights of way existed through the grounds of the County Sligo estate.

Barrister couple Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy issued instructions for the roads to be reopened within hours of the High Court judgment before Christmas.

But days later, the sweeping roadway around the period house was flanked by steel and wooden poles lain lengthways, half a metre high, and wrapped in barbed wire creating a laneway the width of a single car.

Larger boulders were also put in place to block access to a separate restored coach-house, which is now home to the Yeats museum.

Mr Walsh last night confirmed the protective measures were "temporary". He indicated his intention to erect more permanent security around the house and outbuildings. Mr Walsh declined to comment further on his after-court statement of December 20 that his dream for Lissadell was over.

Vision

But on the Lissadell website, a message posted by Mr Walsh, Ms Cassidy and family, has a definite air of finality.

"Our vision was to transform the estate into a flagship for tourism in Sligo and the North West, while providing a secure environment for our children and visitors.

"We did not wish to exploit Lissadell commercially but to restore the house and gardens to their former glory, make Lissadell self-sustaining and protect this crucible of Ireland's historic and literary heritage.

"This was our vision for Lissadell. Our vision is now at an end," it stated.

The couple purchased the property for €4m in 2003 after the State rejected the opportunity on the grounds that it would cost too much to restore.

But a row erupted with Sligo County Council over the existence of rights of way which ended up in a costly High Court hearing lasting over 50 days.

Judge Bryan McMahon finally found in favour of Sligo County Council that rights of way did exist through the estate but only during daylight hours.

Aside from the prospect of an appeal, the owners are facing an eyewatering legal bill and the future of this historic property seems more uncertain than ever.

Irish Independent

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