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Lissadell owner warns of 'security nightmare'

ONE of the owners of historic Lissadell in Sligo would have had an entirely different approach to the restoration of the estate if he had been made aware there were any rights-of-way though the property, a court heard yesterday.

Barrister Edward Walsh, who bought the estate with his barrister wife Constance Cassidy in 2003, told the High Court it would be a security nightmare -- in terms of both maintenance and the safety of visitors -- if there were rights-of-way as claimed by Sligo County Council.

The couple paid €4m for the property and spent some €9.5m restoring Lissadell House, the family home of Countess Markievicz.

They claim they cannot operate it as a tourist amenity if public rights-of-way exist.

Mr Walsh said his plan was to create an environmentally friendly development. He did not want one where you could have a right-of-way for anybody, from juggernauts to pony and carts, passing through "day and night".

Mr Walsh said there was no suggestion of any problems concerning rights-of-way when he had discussions with senior officials of Sligo County Council before and after buying the property.

"If they had said there were public roads and a public right-of-way I would certainly have tried to find out from them what they meant and certainly have reformulated my plan," he said.

Mr Walsh was giving evidence in proceedings before Mr Justice Bryan McMahon over whether there are public rights-of-way on roads through the 410-acre estate.

The proceedings began after the council, in December 2008, passed a resolution to amend the Sligo development plan to include provision for the "preservation of the public rights of way at Lissadell".

As a result, the owners closed Lissadell House to the public in January 2009.

The hearing continues.

Irish Independent