The Official Website of the Fenit Island Access Campaign - Welcome
On 26 January 2022 at a Circuit Court sitting in Tralee, Judge Colin Daly issued an Order requiring the unauthorised fencing on Fenit Island to be removed. The Order was with regard to three cases before the court, Circuit Court Record Nos: 287/2018, 288/2018, 289/2018.
We wish to thank all of those who have steadfastly supported this campaign over the past 14 years. This outcome would not have been possible without your support, your time and your encouragement. It has been a long hard slog and I think we should all be proud of our determination, tenacity and ability to keep the campaign going despite the many setbacks we encountered along the way.
We take the view that An Bord Pleanála’s determination in 2015 coupled with this recent Circuit Court success totally vindicates the campaign waged by the Fenit community. Moreover, it determines once and for all that the pathway around the coastal margins of Fenit island has indeed been habitually used buy the public for 10 years prior to the erection of the access denying fences.
What is the Campaign Seeking to Achieve?
The largely fishing and farming community of the village of Fenit in County Kerry are seeking to have industrial scale fences 1 removed from the beautiful – and once tranquil - Fenit Island. The fences have been erected over a period of years and extend across cliffs and beaches in several locations completely blocking an age-old public access route around the unproductive margins of the island. This path follows the perimeter of the island and has been used by generations of local people and visitors to the area to access the historical and culturally important island coastline and Fenit Island Castle – a designated heritage site.
Background to the Dispute
The Island extends to a total of circa 440 acres and has supported many farming families for centuries. At the time of the famine there were circa 600 people resident on the island which had two churches and a graveyard. People from the village and remote dwellings in the area would travel to Fenit Island to attend mass.
There is currently a total of 9 landowners on Fenit Island – 8 have holdings of between circa 35 and 80 acres – one landowner has only one acre. Many of the landowners are families who have farmed the land for generations who can trace their roots and their association with the island/ parish back over centuries.
Some years ago Seamus T. O’Sullivan inherited his uncle’s holding on the island – some 70 acres. O’Sullivan is an Ennis solicitor and sometime property developer 2 with little or no farming experience. Since inheriting the land he has only ever run a few beef cattle on the land or has occasionally rented the land to working farmers. At the time of writing he has no animals or crops on his land whatsoever. Neither does John Murphy who – together with Kathleen (Kit) McCarthy and her family joined with O’Sullivan to build industrial scale fences along the boundary of their property and at right angles down into the ocean across the coastal pathway in several locations 3 (see examples in the 'Photos' section of our website). This has had the effect of preventing anyone walking the age-old footpath used by the public for generations.
Representatives of the Fenit community have repeatedly tried to engage with the three landowners in the hope that a compromise solution might be found to the increasingly acrimonious dispute 4. On each occasion that the community have reached out to Mr O'Sullivan, Mr Murphy and Ms McCarthy in an to attempt engage in a dialogue their overtures have been ignored.
1) Kerry's Eye 17 February 2011, p9. 2) Pheonix February 25, 2011, p16. 3) Pheonix July 15, 2011, p16. 4) Irish Independant - Monday 14 February 2011.
In addition to these specific references additional background material and further substatiation for all of the above has been sourced from a wide range of newspaper and magazine articles covering the dispute. Most notably: Kerry's Eye 10 February 2011, p3; Irish Independant - Monday 14 February 2011, p 6; Kerry's Eye 17 February 2011, p 9; Irish Examiner 25 July 2011; Irish Independant 25 July 2011, p 13; The Kerryman 27 July 2011, p 4, Kerry's Eye 28 July 2011, p 3, Tralee Outlook 28 July 2011, p4.
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