Access to Benbulben
Sir, – Reading Roger Garland’s letter (September 27th) reminded me of an unpleasant incident about 20 years ago. My wife and I were leading a group of young French walkers in the Sligo area. One day we climbed onto the rough grazing land of the Benbulben plateau, to be confronted by a foul-mouthed, angry farmer telling us in no uncertain terms to clear off.
The French visitors may or may not have visited Ireland again but this type of behaviour hardly encouraged them or their friends. Nor would they be encouraged to know that this could happen anywhere in Ireland, not just in this area. That was the situation on access to the countryside then and it is the situation now. Nothing has changed. In stark contrast to other European countries landowners have absolute rights over their lands, no matter how unused, no matter how remote. With untold damage already caused to our tourism interests (among others) one would expect the State to do something other than sit on its hands. Some hope! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As a local, I have never had an issue about access to Benbulben. I believe that if all walkers followed the simple mantra of “leave no trace”, were respectful to the landowner and avoided taking dogs anywhere with livestock, many of the access issues across our beautiful countryside would be resolved. – Yours, etc,