© Superbass / CC-BY-SA-4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Call for Conor Pass Park to be gifted to Nation

Friends of the Irish Environment have appealed to the owner of lands at the Conor Pass in County Kerry to gift the lands to the State ‘in the tradition of Killarney National Park’.

The site, comprising 1,000 acres of land and almost 400 acres of forestry, has been put up for sale for €10 million by its American owner, Michael Noonan who bought the land in parcels over the years.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the State would like to buy land at the world-famous site at a “reasonable price” but would not pay €10 million. Local TD, Michael Healy-Rae said such a large sum would be better spent on social housing.

FIE said that the Killarney ational Park was previously the Muckross Estate, and its 105 square kilometres was gifted to the nation by US Senator Vincent Bourne in 1932.

‘The opportunity to have a national Park in one the most rugged and magnificent parts of Ireland is one that it would be a shame to miss. We established five national parks in the last 20 years of the 20th century – including Charles Haughey’s opening of the Wicklow National Park in 1986 – but we have established none since the turn of the century,” the group said.

FIE Director Tony Lowes said that that the €10 million price for 5 square kilometers [1400 acres] was a ‘American fantasy’ at €7000 an acre. He pointed out that although the final price is still not known, four times this area was added to the Wicklow National Park in 2016 where the asking price was €2.5 million.

As the owner is returning to the United States, Mr. Lowes said that even if he was unable to gift the entire holding to the State a ‘meeting of minds over a combination of charitable donations and tax advantages could be arranged with good will on both sides’.

On Newstalk Today he addressed the issue of the €10 million being better spent on social housing in the area, as suggested by Deputy Healy Rae, pointing out that the ‘multiple values of nature conservation were poorly understood’.

‘It is not simply that tourism thrives in areas where we have our national parks with an economic vitality that is clearly seen in Killarney, but proper land management can only be assured by ownership.’ He told Newstalk  ‘If allowed to regenerate properly, you would find that birds and creatures of all kinds would flock to it, including tourists. The skies would fill and the rivers would again be full of fish, as they once were before.’

‘If you drive the Connor Pass now’, Mr. Lowes, who used to live in the area, said, ‘you will see that the rare ungrazed areas are lush and thick with vegetation, slowly evolving into scrub which will one day become native forest. Those areas over grazed by sheep are held together by the thinnest layer of grass.’

‘It not simply that proper land management would bring back our native flora and fauna, but our coastal waters are green with algae blooms right now. This is driven in part by the impact of the nutrients in the sheep faeces. While overgrazing is not the only cause of our coastal dead zones, algae growth driven by these fertilising faeces decay. This exhausts the oxygen, ultimately resulting in dead zones with the death of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic organisms.’

He said that in climate terms reducing the number of sheep would not only lower the methane emissions, but ‘the consequent regrowth in vegetation would absorb Green House Gases from the atmosphere, acting as a ‘sink’. The more sinks we can encourage the less cuts we will have to make to our emissions – its as simple as that.’

FIE has written to the owner, Michael Noonan, encouraging him to engage with the Government. ‘In the long term, these modest beginnings could form the basis of a wider and more significant Park, stretching from Mount Brandon to Dingle.’

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related Comments Members can comment by siging in to their account. Non-members can register to comment for free here.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Do you agree with the Government's plan to reduce speed limits?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...