Celbridge Access Protest

Celbridge residents have been staging a protest at one of Ireland's most-popular heritage sites after the new owners of private land around it withdrew permission for continued use of the site's main access road and car park.

The historic Castletown House and grounds are owned by the State, but the land surrounding it was recently purchased by a private developer after the Government failed in its bid.

If the decision to withdraw access is not reversed, it would impede those with disabilities from visiting the site, Minister with Responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O'Donovan told RTÉ’s News at One.

He said it was a huge part of Kildare tourism and its amenity offering, and the previous system had been in place since 2007.

He said that the State had a very good working relationship with the previous landowner, and he hoped to have a good working relationship with the next one, but they are now facing an ultimatum as access is going to be restricted from 10pm on Friday evening.

“That puts a huge dilemma for us of keeping this national asset to keep it open to the public, particularly for a lot of our visitors who have restricted mobility and are disabled. At the moment, we have no provision for them because the car park that we currently have, it is proposed it be discontinued. I’ve asked officials in OPW to continue to engage with the landowner to see if the ultimatum of Friday evening can be removed off the table to give us a bit of time to actually have further discussions on this.”

The Chairperson of Keep Ireland Open, Robert Dowds, supported the protest.

Keep Ireland Open was established in 1994 with the aim of lobbying for comprehensive legislation which would protect and extend access to the countryside, mountains and seashore for responsible recreational users.