Fenit Island Access Campaign

Fenit Island Access Campaign

Campaigning on behalf of the community

The Official Website of the Fenit Island Access Campaign - Welcome

Breaking News

In June 2015 An Bord Pleanála ruled that the fencing on Fenit Island was unauthorised development and hence illegal. On 3 May 2017 the three Fenit Island developers were served with Enforcement Notices requiring them to demolish the fencing and remove them from the island.

This represents a significant turning point in the campaign which means that the unsightly, access denying industrial scale structures will once and for all be removed from this scenically stunning corner of the island of Ireland.

This achievement is due entirely to the persistence of scores of campaigners who have worked tirelessly to employ the systems that are provided by statute to protect our common heritage. We thank all of the very many who have contributed to the achievement of this significant turning point in our campaign. 

Irish Independent 15 May 2017

What is the Campaign Seeking to Achieve?

The largely fishing and farming community of the village of Fenit in County Kerry are seeking to have industrial scale fences 1 removed from the beautiful – and once tranquil - Fenit Island. The fences have been erected over a period of years and extend across cliffs and beaches in several locations completely blocking an age-old public access route around the unproductive margins of the island. This path follows the perimeter of the island and has been used by generations of local people and visitors to the area to access the historical and culturally important island coastline and Fenit Island Castle – a designated heritage site.

Background to the Dispute

The Island extends to a total of circa 440 acres and has supported many farming families for centuries. At the time of the famine there were circa 600 people resident on the island which had two churches and a graveyard. People from the village and remote dwellings in the area would travel to Fenit Island to attend mass.

There is currently a total of 9 landowners on Fenit Island – 8 have holdings of between circa 35 and 80 acres – one landowner has only one acre. Many of the landowners are families who have farmed the land for generations who can trace their roots and their association with the island/ parish back over centuries.

Some years ago Seamus T. O’Sullivan inherited his uncle’s holding on the island – some 70 acres. O’Sullivan is an Ennis solicitor and sometime property developer 2 with little or no farming experience. Since inheriting the land he has only ever run a few beef cattle on the land or has occasionally rented the land to working farmers. At the time of writing he has no animals or crops on his land whatsoever. Neither does John Murphy who – together with Kathleen (Kit) McCarthy and her family joined with O’Sullivan to build industrial scale fences along the boundary of their property and at right angles down into the ocean across the coastal pathway in several locations 3 (see examples in the 'Photos' section of our website). This has had the effect of preventing anyone walking the age-old footpath used by the public for generations.

Representatives of the Fenit community have repeatedly tried to engage with the three landowners in the hope that a compromise solution might be found to the increasingly acrimonious dispute 4. On each occasion that the community have reached out to Mr O'Sullivan, Mr Murphy and Ms McCarthy in an to attempt engage in a dialogue their overtures have been ignored.


1) Kerry's Eye 17 February 2011, p9. 2) Pheonix February 25, 2011, p16. 3) Pheonix July 15, 2011, p16. 4) Irish Independant - Monday 14 February 2011.

In addition to these specific references additional background material and further substatiation for all of the above has been sourced from a wide range of newspaper and magazine articles covering the dispute. Most notably: Kerry's Eye 10 February 2011, p3; Irish Independant - Monday 14 February 2011, p 6; Kerry's Eye 17 February 2011, p 9; Irish Examiner 25 July 2011; Irish Independant 25 July 2011, p 13; The Kerryman 27 July 2011, p 4, Kerry's Eye 28 July 2011, p 3, Tralee Outlook 28 July 2011, p4.

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