Lissadell House being protected by barbed wire

Mon, Jan 10, 2011, 00:00

THE OWNERS of Lissadell House have secured it with barbed wire wrapped around poles, and there are boulders blockading access to the Yeats Museum in a separate coach house.

The protective measures were introduced by Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy to safeguard their property in the days after a High Court ruling confirmed the existence of public rights of way.

Within hours of the court decision in Christmas week, roads through the Co Sligo estate, including one passing right by the house, were opened to the public.

By the new year, although the roads continued to remain open, barbed wire wrapped around steel and wooden poles lying length-ways and raised about two feet, and boulders, were put in place to protect the private property beside the thoroughfares.

Mr Walsh said yesterday that the protective measures are temporary.

He intends erecting more permanent security around the house and the coach house.

Mr Walsh refused to add to his statement of December 20th, after the court hearing, that his dream for Lissadell was over.

He said then the family couldn’t run the estate with public rights of way adding to the perspective of security, insurance, and maintenance. He thought the State might consider stepping in and taking it over.

He is understood to have remained firm about his “dream” being over, although he is still considering an appeal against the High Court decision.

The Walsh-Cassidy family estimates a weekend of Leonard Cohen and Westlife concerts last summer, as well as a brief reopening of Lissadell as a tourist attraction until October, brought between €15 million and €20 million into the Sligo and Donegal area last year.

They estimate up to €30 million a year could be brought to the northwest with more concerts and full operation of the estate as a tourism attraction.

But already plans for a concert this year appear to have been shelved, and there has been no attempt at negotiating any solution between the Walsh-Cassidy family and Sligo County Council.

The couple purchased the property, former childhood home of Countess Constance Markievicz, for €4 million in 2003 and spent a further €9.5 million restoring the house and gardens.

A row flared between the owners and the council over rights of way and Mr Justice Bryan McMahon found in favour of Sligo County Council that rights of way had existed – but only during daylight hours – for many years by virtue of acquiescence by previous owners.