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Gates of right-of-way row estate 'were always open'

A MAN has told the High Court he never felt he was a trespasser when walking and cycling around Lissadell Estate from childhood and always had respect for its former owners, the Gore-Booth family.

Jim Meehan (59) said he sometimes met Aideen Gore-Booth, who would be driving a "battered" Mini car, when he was on the estate and she would wave and smile at him.

Local people had great respect for the Gore-Booth family and he had no memory of there being any issue about access to the estate, he said.

He did not recall any closed gates when he accessed the estate.

He had gone to the beach at Lissadell as a teenager and also cycled around the main house from where he recalled hearing beautiful piano music one morning about 7am, he said.

He was told the pianist was probably Angus Gore-Booth whom he described as "reclusive".

He was giving evidence in the continuing action before Mr Justice Bryan McMahon over whether there are public rights of way over the 410-acre estate, which was bought in 2003 by barristers Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy.

In proceedings against Sligo County Council, the couple are seeking orders and declarations that four routes in the estate are not subject to public rights of way.

Mr Meehan told the court when he was older, he would walk on the estate for "peace and tranquility" and was never asked by anyone to leave or queried about what he was doing there.

He had felt sorry for the Gore-Booth family as they were in a weak financial position and did not have the resources to maintain the estate, he said.

They were "remarkable people" with great "strength of purpose" and Aideen Gore-Booth had put him "to shame" when she contacted him about not letting a local co-op be taken over by a larger group, added Mr Meehan.

The case continues.