DESTRUCTION OF RINGFORTS: DOES OUR UNIQUE HERITAGE GET JUSTICE IN THE IRISH JUDICIAL SYSTEM?

THE DESTRUCTION OF ONE OF TWO RINGFORTS AT KNOCKACAREIGH TOWNLAND, KILMURRY

THE DESTRUCTION OF ONE OF TWO RINGFORTS AT KNOCKACAREIGH TOWNLAND, KILMURRY

WILL OUR UNIQUE HERITAGE GET JUSTICE IN THE IRISH JUDICIAL SYSTEM?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TWO RINGFORTS AT KILMURRY, COUNTY CORK, IN 2010?
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RINGFORTS AT KILMURRY, COUNTY CORK, IN 2010

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RINGFORTS AT KILMURRY, COUNTY CORK, IN 2010

ON THE DESTRUCTION OF A COUNTY KERRY RINGFORT AND THE SUBSEQUENT COURT CASE, IN THREE NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

The Irish Times – Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Judge warns over ring fort destruction

ANNE LUCEY

A CIRCUIT Court judge has warned that “a marker has to be put down” when it comes to sentencing a Kerry landowner for the destruction of a 1,500-year-old ring fort, a national monument, in one of the first cases of its kind to come before the courts.

Judge Carroll Moran, who noted that restoration was not possible, was speaking yesterday at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee where John O’Mahony (64) was to be sentenced for destroying a fort of national importance.

Tom Rice, prosecuting, said the fine was €15,000 and/or five years in prison. Personnel from the National Museum were in court.

Last November, O’Mahony pleaded guilty to carrying out unauthorised work near a monument on his farmland at Clashmealcon, Causeway, in February 2008.

The court heard how the lands contained a ring fort and souterrains, or underground tunnels, dating back to between AD500 and AD100.

The ring fort and tunnel system were of national historic importance and were listed on the national monuments register.

Without seeking permission from the Department of the Environment, Mr O’Mahony had hired workers to demolish the majority of the ring fort and use the material to fill in a pond he believed dangerous, the court was told.

Mr O’Mahony knew of the existence of the ring fort as he had previously objected to a planning application on the grounds the site contained “a historical ring fort”, the court was told.

John O’Sullivan, defending, said O’Mahony did not understand the implications of what he had done.

He said his client apologised. Judge Moran adjourned sentencing to February 21st.

Ringfort destroyer: Judge examines farmer’s finances

A JUDGE who is deciding what size of financial penalty to impose on a north Kerry farmer said yesterday he would need more time to examine the financial books of the farmer, who was described by his solicitor as “not a rich man”.
The farmer admitted the destruction of an an important ring fort and underground passageway which had a protection order on it.
Staff from the National Museum and the National Monuments Service were in court yesterday.
Judge Carroll Moran had previously warned that the farmer, John O’mahony (64), of Clashmealcon, Causeway, faced a hefty fine because “a marker” had to be put down over the destruction of the recorded fort that had a preservation order attached to it.

Yesterday, however, defence counsel John O’sullivan said his client was “not a rich man”.
Financial details read through by Tom Rice, prosecutor, stated O’mahony had 20 hectares of land and had a herd of 31 milch cows and 35 dry stock.
The stock value was about ¤50,000 and the assets including lands and building were valued at ¤350,000 in 2009.
O’mahony’s taxable income was ¤14,786 in 2008, ¤5,440 in 2009 and under ¤5,000 in 2010, the prosecutor said, reading from what were described by Mr O’sullivan as the tax assessments accepted by the Revenue.
The judge put it to the defence counsel his client was saying he was “asset rich and cash poor” .
However, Mr O’sullivan said a Kerry farmer of 44 acres could not be described as asset rich.
The matter had been adjourned for sentencing from a previous court and was put back to next Friday after the judge said he wanted to take a week to go through the large financial file.
25 Feb 2012
The Irish Times
ANNE LUCEY in Tralee

Farmer must pay €25,000 fine for flattening ring fort

A 64–YEAR–old farmer was yesterday ordered to pay a €25,000 fine for demolishing a ring fort on his land or face two years in prison. John O’Mahony of Clashmealcon, Causeway, Co Kerry, is the first person to be prosecuted and convicted under National Monuments legislation. O’Mahony pleaded guilty to carrying out unauthorised work on the ring fort and on its souterrain –– a series of underground tunnels –– in February 2008. He was convicted of the offences at Tralee Circuit Court last year.

Imposing the fine yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran took into account O’Mahony’s guilty plea, his unblemished character before the offence occurred, and that he had carried out the work in the open and not covertly.However, he said there were aggravating factors and O’Mahony had destroyed a medieval circular fortified settlement that was more than 1,000 years old and was lost forever.He also said the accused man had not been truthful in his account to gardai during the investigation and had claimed he was alleviating a hazard to cattle and children.”This is a very serious matter and were it not for the mitigating factors he would be facing a prison sentence,” Judge Moran said before adding that the fine had to be a “meaningful” one.  The maximum penalty that can be imposed by the courts is five years in prison and/or a fine of €50,000.The lands contained a ring fort and a series of underground tunnels which dated to between 500 and 1000AD.The ring fort and souterrain system were deemed to be national monuments of historic importance and had been placed on a national register.Landowners are required to notify the Department of the Environment of their intention to carry out works near a national monument two months in advance, and have to obtain written permission from the minister before they can proceed.However, in February 2008 O’Mahony hired workers who demolished part of the ring fort and the souterrains.He used the materials to fill in a nearby pond, which he told the court he believed to pose a risk to children and livestock.When the department learned of the demolition they notified gardai.O’Mahony had initially claimed he was not aware of the significance of the ring fort. However, in the course of the investigation, it emerged he had previously objected to a planning application to construct four houses on the same site by its previous owner on the grounds it contained a ring fort.The court heard that restoration was not possible.A spokesperson for the National Museum said: “This damage is likely to severely limit any further information that might be gained on the nature of metal working at the site.”Judge Moran had previously adjourned sentencing to examine O’Mahony’s financial accounts which outlined the value of his 45–acre holding as €350,000. His stock was valued at just over €48,000.O’Mahony was given two years to pay the fine.

By Majella O’Sullivan
Saturday March 03 2012

Farmer: I didn’t know felled forts were monuments

By Liam Heylin – Thursday, November 08, 2012

A farmer who demolished two fairy forts on his farm days after buying the land has told a court that he did not know they were fairy forts or ring forts.

As for the 2m-high circles of boulders, 30m and 60m in diameter, being recorded monuments, he said he had never heard that term before.

Pat Desmond, aged 41, of Curraghclough, Lissarda, Co Cork, bought his sixth farm at Knockacareigh, Kilmurray, Macroom. Mr Desmond now has 485 acres across the six farms.

He said he had been farming since he was a child and said under cross-examination that he had never heard of any farmer ever getting into trouble for the demolition of such structures.

He told Judge Donagh McDonagh and a jury of 10 men and two women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that if he had known the structures were recorded monuments or fairy forts he would not have gone next or near them.

He said he had already been penalised to the tune of €27,000, which was deducted from the Department of Agriculture’s single farm payment to him as a result of his actions in Jul 2009.

“My intention was to clean off scrub,” he testified.

Pat Desmond is on trial on two charges, namely the failure to notify the environment minister two months in advance of plans to perform works at the registered monuments on his land at Kilmurray. The defendant denied the two charges.

Prosecution barrister, Siobhán Lankford, outlined the alleged facts that the state would seek to prove against Mr Desmond.

Ms Lankford said: “You moved on to the farm on Jul 23, 2009, and these two fairy forts were gone on Jul 29.”

Mr Desmond said: “What is the point of your question?”

Ms Lankford said: “Two fairy forts were demolished in a six-day period, did you think they were a nuisance?”

The defendant replied: “I didn’t give any thought to them. I saw it as cleaning up scrub… I had no idea they were fairy forts and that they were protected structures.”

Ms Lankford suggested that it would have been clear to the defendant that the structures were there even before he bought the land and she asked him if he walked the land before spending more than €1.3m on this particular farm.

He said he did not walk it but he drove across it in a 4×4 and did not notice the structures and that nobody had brought them to his attention when he was buying the land.

The trial continues today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

 

 

 

Farmer must pay €20,000 after destroying ring forts

By Ralph Riegel

Friday November 09 2012

Irish Independent.

A FARMER who demolished two ancient ring forts must pay fines and penalties of €20,000.

Patrick Desmond (41) was convicted on two counts of failing to notify the Department of the Environment of planned works on two ring or fairy forts at his recently purchased holding in Macroom, Co Cork.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard the dairy farmer would never have gone ahead with the work had he realised protected structures were involved.

Judge Donagh McDonagh fined Mr Desmond €5,000 on each charge and directed that he pay a further €2,500 on each charge to the Department.

He also ordered Mr Desmond to make a €5,000 contribution to Barnardos. The fines and penalties total €20,000.

Mr Desmond, of Curraghclough, Lissarda, Co Cork, said he did not realise the structures involved fairy or ring forts.

He also said he was totally unaware that the circle of boulders, some 2m high and 30m in diameter, were recorded national monuments.

Mr Desmond farms 485 acres spread across six holdings.

He had just bought his sixth farm at Kilmurray, outside Macroom, and said he was merely trying to clear scrub from the land a short time after the purchase in July 2009. The farm was sold for a reported €1.3m.

Mr Desmond said he has been involved in farming since childhood and had never heard of a landowner getting into difficulty over scrub clean-ups.

The trial heard that, as a consequence of the work, he has already lost €27,000 which was subtracted from his Department of Agriculture single farm payment.

The farmer said no-one had brought the structures to his notice during the purchase proceedings.

– Ralph Riegel

Irish Independent

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3 Responses “DESTRUCTION OF RINGFORTS: DOES OUR UNIQUE HERITAGE GET JUSTICE IN THE IRISH JUDICIAL SYSTEM?” →
  1. Farmers who demolish these ancient structures know very well what they are doing. The proper punishment would be to make them reinstate the ringforts and provide public access. That would soften their cough.

    Reply
    • hi Tomas,
      I thoroughly agree; what annoys me even more is the lack of media coverage, in particular on the newspapers, about the case. It is a landmark decision to get any type of fine, as small as it was, for such a case,

      Reply
  2. Actually, willful destruction of a rinfort should carry a mandatory 2 year jail sentence. End of story.

    Reply

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