Ensure future public access. The state should purchase part of the lands at Luggala.
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Luggala has long held an almost mythical status in the Irish mindset, with its jagged granite peaks, deep lakes, valleys, ancient oak woods and herds of wild deer, its hard to find a place to rival such beauty.
The public, locals and tourists have long enjoyed free and unrestricted access over much of this wonderful landscape.
The entire estate is currently up for sale with an asking price of €28 million, a new private buyer could close off public access to the entire 5000 acre estate virtually overnight and under Irish law as it stands there is nothing anyone or the State could do about it.
The Department of Culture Heritage and The Gaeltacht have stated that the price tag of €28 million is too high. Instead we are asking that the State purchase the portion of the lands which have traditionally been open to the public for perhaps €1.2 million based on the price paid by the state for a similar parcel of land in Glenasmole in the Dublin Mountains in 2016. It is vital that the Iconic and much cherished landscape and lands of Luggala estate remain open to the public.
As a matter of urgency we ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD to please re-engage with the Guinness family trust that owns Luggala Estate with a view to the State purchasing Luggala’s mountain lands including the track down to Lough Dan as part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
New ‘private property, trespassers will be prosecuted’ signs have recently been erected at parts of Luggala. This development, and the death in March 2018 of Garech de Brún, the guardian of Luggala, signal a possible change to the long tradition of public access maintained by Garech, and previously by his mother, to this stunning mountain landscape.
In Ireland (unlike most EU countries) recreational users have virtually no legal right to access or walk across privately owned land (even remote mountains) meaning that a new buyer could close off the entire estate to the public, including the hugely popular walks, such closures /denial of access to large tracts of land traditionally enjoyed by the public has happened in many other parts of the country. The Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork being just one example of this.
The National Parks & Wildlife Service has recommended the purchase of 4,000 acres of the estate (excluding Luggala Lodge and its surroundings). These lands could be purchased at a significantly lower cost than the entire estate and would mean access enjoyed by the public could continue. Mountaineering Ireland and Keep Ireland Open have also called for a similar approach.
The Luggala Estate has perhaps some of the most stunning scenery in the country, it is surrounded on three sides by the Wicklow Mountains National Park and enjoyed by large numbers of hillwalkers, nature lovers, rock climbers and has an important access route down to Lough Dan. It is crucial that the Government should seize the opportunity presented by the current sale of Luggala to secure this unique property in State ownership for the benefit of current and future generations.
This petition is supported by Mountaineering Ireland
Key benefits for the State purchasing lands at Luggala estate.
- Secure public access to its mountains, rivers, valleys, woods and lakes.
- Preserve & enhance important natural habitats.
- An additional destination in the Wicklow Mountains for recreational users, tourists and day trippers other than Glendalough which is often over crowded and hard to get into at times as it’s so busy.
- Provide badly needed recreational space for the large and ever expanding population of coastal Wicklow and Dublin.
- Allow for the future development of walks and trails through the area.
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