'Temporary' closure for eight years

Residents of Killarney estate call on council to re-open right of way that closed in 'dead of night'

Sinead Kelleher

More than eight years after the former Killarney Town Council closed a right of way linking Muckross View Housing Estate to the Muckross Road as a 'temporary' measure, council officials have stated that they must investigate the exact scenario before they can re-open it. 

"It is a very complex and historic issue," Killarney Town Engineer John Ahern told councillors at last week's municipal meeting.  

He said that he will need some weeks to establish the clear facts behind the closure before anything can be done. 

A deputation from the Killarney Housing Estate appealed to Kerry County Council to re-open the right of way this week. 

This right of way was closed more than eight years ago 'in the dead of night'  according to local spokesperson, Paddy Keane. 

"We were told it was a temporary measure but eight and a half years later it is still closed." 

It was originally closed because of a structural issue with a wall on the route, but no works have been undertaken in the intervening eight years, the meeting was told. 

"If we had made more noise, councillors would have been here, but we have been silent long enough," said Mr Keane. 

Fr Simon Twomey, who formed part of the deputation, said that the council came in the 'middle of the night' and said it was a temporary blockage on a right of way that has been there for long time, back to when his family owned the land and used it for grazing. 

The deputation was called by Mayor of Killarney Cllr John Sheahan, who said that the wall should be made safe to ensure that residents were not 'deprived' of their right of way. 

Cllr Maura Healy Rae said that it was 'amazing' that, more than eight years on, something that was meant to be a temporary measure was still in place. 

She added that closing such a right of way could have been illegal in the first place.  Councillors called for clarity on whether it was a legal right of way or just a short-cut, and they also called for the council to assess the structural issue. 

Cllr Donal Grady said that he had been raising this issue for a number of years and that he had been involved in three attempts to re-open the right of way - but the council said it was not right to do so.

Cllr Niall Kelleher said that the right of way may not be registered but that it is a 'long-standing right of way' and that there is law in relation to this. 

The meeting was told that works are being undertaken by a local  contractor and that it is only the remaining 10 per cent of the right of way that residents are seeking support from the local authority on.

Town engineer John Ahern said that he would look into the matter but that it would take some time to access the old files that were required. 

He added that a structural report would then be needed to see what works are required. Councillors agreed to give allocations to the work and urged the council to look at the issue as soon as possible as residents had waited long enough.