FERNS FARMER IS AWARDED €25,000 IN RIGHT OF WAY CASE
A FERNS farmer has won legal right of way through farm land and has been awarded €27,500 in damages following two days of a civil court action.
Richard Nolan of Craan, Ferns, was awarded the damages by Judge Patrick Meghan following two days of evidence and legal submissions in what was a complex case concerning a right of way which had been running through farm holdings of Mr Nolan and his neighbour and the defendant in the case, William Kavanagh of Moneydurtlow, Ferns.
Counsel for Richard Nolan, Conor O’Doherty, told the court that his client had enjoyed a right of way through the lands in question. He claimed that the defendant, William Kavanagh, had unlawfully interfered with the right of way, erecting gates and a cattle crush, and refused to give Mr Nolan access. Mr Nolan also claimed he was harassed by the defendant.
Outlining the background to the land, Mr O’Doherty said a portion of the lands was given to Mr Nolan by his mother, while the family had farmed this land for generations, with the portion of land in question dating back to the 1900s. Further land became part of the family holding at a later date and is now owned by the plaintiff ’s brother.
The Plaintiff’s claim, said Mr. O’Doherty, is that there is a clear unambiguous right of way.
Defence Counsel, Ms Caroline Latham, said her client Mr Kavanagh strenuously denied the allegations of harassment and trespass. It is the defendant’s position that no right of way ever existed over his land, she told the court, with the plaintiff’s land abutting the defendant’s land north and south. It was accepted a laneway or trackway has been in existence over the defendant’s land dating back to 1840 but that does not mean there is a right of way. claimed Ms Latham.
Ms Latham said that the Kavanaghs and Nolans had lived beside each other for decades and throughout that time there had never been a right of way, adding, that the plaintiff had always accessed this portion of land through the public road at Askamore, which runs alongside the lands owned by the plaintiff ’s brother, Paddy Nolan.
Ms Latham also told the court that they had a counter claim that the plaintiff had entered Mr Kavanagh’s land without permission with a jeep and digger, causing considerable damage to the defendant’s land.
Richard Nolan gave evidence of the family’s history on the lands, telling the court he took over the farming enterprise in 1992. There was a section of land of 22 acres and another section of 42 acres, while his brother had lands in Askamore. He said that without the laneway his lands to the north would be cut off.
When his mother lived on the lands, and he wanted to visit her, he would walk the laneway.
Mr Nolan told the court that when he sold a field for sites, the defendant placed gates and a cattle crush on the laneway. He also told of the defendant interfering with him as he tried to sell horses to a Billy O’Connor. He also told of having problems with the defendant regarding the trimming of hedges along the laneway.
Mr. Nolan also told the court that his mother did nothing or said anything to suggest she was abandoning the right of way. He added that without the right of way his land is landlocked.
Ms Latham said the cattle crush was a necessity for the safety of animals, adding that the gates were also erected for safety reasons, so as the cattle would not be able to divert towards the public road.
Ms Latham said that currently there is a registered right of way over Mr Kavanagh’s land in favour of the Kinsella family which dates back to 1945. The defendant was willing to allow the plaintiff usage of this section, but not the overgrown section, claiming that is has been impassable for decades.
William Kavanagh told the court the laneway begins on Mr Nolan’s land from the public road in the south/western end, going all the way through his land, up to Mr. Nolan’s land in the north. He said that a top section of the laneway has been overgrown for 40 years, adding, that it would not be possible to use this top section of laneway with a vehicle.
He denied ever interfering or harrassing Mr Nolan. He also said that he did not object to Mr Nolan’s planning application for sites.
In relation to the gates, Mr Kavanagh said they were erected for safety reasons to preventing the cattle from bolting towards the public road and also for the segregation of the cattle, while the cattle crush has been on the lane since 2000.
Judge Meghan said he was satisfied that there is a right of way in existence but unfortunately the relationship between the neighbours had deteriorated.
He said it would be better if the cattle crush and the gates were moved as they were preventing access to the right of way with works to be carried out in consultation with the parties. He also awarded damages of €27,500 to the Plaintiff with costs.