Thursday 21 January 2010

Judge hearing Lissadell right of way case to visit estate

THE HIGH Court judge hearing the dispute over whether there are public rights of way across the historic Lissadell estate in Co Sligo has said he will visit the estate before the conclusion of the case.

Mr Justice Bryan McMahon announced his intention yesterday to lawyers for the owners of the estate and for Sligo County Council and asked the sides what would be an appropriate time for him to visit. The case is expected to last several more weeks, the judge also heard.

Earlier, the judge was told by Brian Murray SC, for the owners, Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy, that his side disputed the council’s claim that public rights of way across the estate were created under some 14 grants made in the 19th century for the upkeep of various roads between Lissadell and other locations in counties Sligo and Leitrim.

Counsel said the crucial issue was that these grand jury grants, made on dates from 1813 to 1834, appeared to relate to roads “between” Lissadell and other locations and not to roads “within” Lissadell itself.

His side had been unable to find any grant referring to the building of anything at or within Lissadell. Many of the grants also related to long stretches of road and it was not clear what specific part of the road to which the grant related.

Mr Murray was addressing issues in the council’s counter-claim in the proceedings brought against it by the owners in which they are seeking declarations that there are no public rights of way over four roads in Lissadell.

Among various claims in its counter claim, the council contends the dedication and/or acceptance of public rights of way over the roads in question can be inferred from various materials, including the passage over the roads by members of the public “throughout living memory and since at least 1900”.

It also relies on various maps and the use of public money for the upkeep of roads at Lissadell.

The council also claims public rights of way may be inferred from the making of grants by the grand jury for the county of Sligo on dates from 1813 to March 1834 to the owners’ predecessors in title for the purposes of building or repairing the roadways.

Mr Murray said he expected to continue his opening today, after which his side will call evidence.

The action resumed this week after being adjourned last October to allow the sides assess the significance of discovered documents.

Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy, whose principal address is Morristown, Lattin, Naas, Co Kildare, but who use Lissadell as a second home, bought the Lissadell estate, extending over some 410 acres and the former home of Countess Constance Markievicz, for almost €4 million in 2003. They have spent some €9.5 million restoring it and claim they cannot operate it as a tourist amenity if public rights of way exist.

Irish Times

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