Two parties interested in sale of land on Conor Pass in Co Kerry

Taoiseach said Government is interested in buying scenic site but would not pay €10m asking price for the lands, woods and lakes

Interest in 1,000 acres of land and 400 acres of forestry on the Conor Pass in Dingle, Co Kerry, one of Ireland’s most scenic and famous locations, has been expressed by two parties, according to the auctioneer involved in the sale.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the State would like to buy the land at a “reasonable price” but will not pay the €10 million asking price.

The sale caused controversy last month, with many unaware it was owned privately.

Local Dingle auctioneer Mike Kennedy said he is talking to two parties who are currently “doing due diligence”.


He said one of the parties was a foreign buyer. The other, he said, came from a solicitor based in Ireland. It is not clear if this interest is on behalf of a client.

Mr Kennedy said he was the sole agent for the sale, which is being advertised on its own website.

The lands in question are accessed from the Conor Pass Road, a public road which forms one of two main access routes to Dingle. The 456-metre (1,496ft) high pass connects the town of Dingle, on the south-western end of the Dingle peninsula, with Brandon Bay and Castlegregory in the northeast.

The pass is considered one of the most stunning mountain routes in Ireland and is popular with cyclists and motorists.

The site includes four lakes – Pedlar’s, Atlea, Beirne and Clogharee – along with a waterfall and mature forest.

American owner Michael Noonan bought the land in parcels over the years and he farms it with grazing sheep.

Bordered on the west by the Owenmore river, and with views over Dingle Town, Brandon Bay and the Atlantic the land is already visited by thousands of walkers and tourists each year. Pedlar’s Lake was used as the backdrop to the film The Field.

It is the second time the State is being urged to buy the land high over Dingle. It was previously put on the market in 2007 but the economic crash put an end to any possible State intervention.

Tony Lowes, director of Friends of the Irish Environment, said the State should buy the land for a national park.

“We put in five national parks in the last 20 years of the last century,” he said. “And when you look at the kind of things, the advantages we get from them, it really is a bit difficult to understand. I think it’s just that people don’t realise the value of properly conserving and properly managing the land.”

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, however, is opposed to the State purchasing the site. He said the State does not need to buy it to protect it and preserve it for the future as strict planning laws in Kerry mean “you couldn’t build a hen house on it”.

“I think it’s fair to say that the State won’t be paying €10 million for it, but we would be interested in talking to the owner about a reasonable price because I’d like to see us extend our national parks,” Mr Varadkar said.

On Friday the State announced it had purchased 551 acres in Co Meath for a new National Park, the first in 25 years. The new park will be located on the Dowth demesne, near Newgrange.

The lands amount to almost one third of the total area of the Unesco World Heritage site in the Boyne Valley and include a Neolithic passage tomb, which was discovered during excavation works to Dowth Hall in 2017.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist