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Saturday 18 November 2017

Neighbours settle land dispute that split island community

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

TWO neighbours have settled their dispute over a right-of-way that has bitterly divided a community.

Circuit court proceedings were initiated by Ennis-based solicitor Seamus T O'Sullivan with an address at Tawlaght, Tralee, Co Kerry, against neighbouring landowners Hugh Gerard and Sheila Crean, of Fenit, Co Kerry, over a disputed right-of-way through Mr O'Sullivan's farmyard.

Mr O'Sullivan and the Creans own adjoining properties on Fenit Island near Tralee and have been embroiled in a row over access for a number of years.

The Creans' land is located on the island at either side of a farmyard owned by Mr O'Sullivan. They claimed to have a right-of-way through the farmyard to access another portion of the lands Mr Crean inherited from his aunt Bridie Murphy.

The land has been in the family for five generations. Mr O'Sullivan inherited his farm from his uncle, Jack O'Sullivan.

Yesterday, the civil action initiated by Mr O'Sullivan to restrain the Creans from trespassing on his property was settled at Tralee Circuit Court.

The Co Clare solicitor is also at the centre of another access controversy on Fenit Island that has angered local people and led to a number of protests on the island.

Over 200 people took part in protest walks around the island in February and again in July this year to assert what they claim is an ancient right-of-way to a coastal pathway on the historic island that is thought to have been the birthplace of St Brendan.

An eight feet-high fence was erected around the perimeter of the island, which blocks off access to walkers. A sign on the electric fence warns: "The lands beyond this barrier are private property. If you proceed further you, will be committing an act of trespass."

Fenit Island measures an area of approximately 440 acres that is owned by nine different landowners. The island is of significant scenic beauty and some of it has been designated a special area of conservation.

The island also has historical importance because of its associations with St Brendan and the 16th-century Fenit Castle, which is owned by the Office of Public Works and lies on the Creans' land.

In 2006, Kerry County Council upgraded the road to the island and locals say that it was shortly after this that the fencing was put up. Protesters say that while they have no objection to landowners fencing off their own property, they do object to them blocking off what has been a traditional walking route around the island.

Mr O'Sullivan and fellow landowner, John P O'Sullivan, maintain that no such public right-of-way exists.

Irish Independent

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