Fianna Fáil Councillor Urges State to Secure Deal for New National Park in Co. Kerry
A Fianna Fáil councillor has called on the Irish government to secure a deal to purchase lands on the Conor Pass in Co. Kerry, with the aim of establishing a new national park. It has been reported that negotiations between the State and the US owner of the 1,400-acre land are well advanced, following its listing for sale at €10 million last August. Mike Kennedy, an auctioneer based in Dingle who is handling the sale, has stated that they are hoping to achieve a price of around €7,000-7,500 per acre for the entire holding. Last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed the government’s interest in acquiring the land, but at a “reasonable price”.
The lands, which are situated approximately 6km from Dingle town, are part of one of the most breathtaking driving routes in the country. The holding consists of a combination of forestry, lowland, and mountain grazing areas. The sale also includes three lakes: Lough Atlea, Lough Beirne, and Pedlars Lake. Fianna Fáil Councillor Breandán Fitzgerald has described the opportunity to acquire these lands as “a once in a lifetime opportunity”. He stated, “When it came up for sale, people were actually shocked that it was in private ownership and that the State didn’t own it”.
An online petition calling on the government to purchase the lands for a national park garnered almost 20,000 signatures. Councillor Fitzgerald previously presented a motion, which received unanimous support from Kerry County Council members, urging Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and the government to secure the lands. Fitzgerald also personally raised the issue with Minister O’Brien during the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in November. Minister for Education Norma Foley, who supported the councillor’s call, has reportedly stated that negotiations between the landowner and the State are promising.
Councillor Fitzgerald believes that the establishment of a new national park in west Kerry could provide economic opportunities, similar to the impact of Fungi the dolphin’s arrival in Dingle harbour. He stated, “It’s not going to make everyone rich, but it will give people opportunities to care for the park and cater to those who wish to visit it. When you live in rural areas like the Dingle Peninsula, having more options and opportunities to live, work, and raise a family in the area is extremely important”.
While Councillor Fitzgerald does not have specific insight into the ongoing discussions, he remains hopeful for a positive outcome. He acknowledged the typical back-and-forth nature of negotiations, with the seller seeking the best price and the buyer seeking the best deal. However, he emphasized the importance of this opportunity for the Irish people and the potential for the State to purchase, preserve, and maintain the land for future generations. He urged both the seller and the Irish State to continue negotiating and finalize the deal.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) occasionally acquires land for strategic and conservation purposes. However, an NPWS spokesperson declined to comment on any individual site offered for sale, citing commercial sensitivity.
In conclusion, the Fianna Fáil councillor’s call for the State to secure a deal to purchase lands on the Conor Pass in Co. Kerry for a new national park has gained significant support. Negotiations between the landowner and the State are reportedly progressing well, with the potential for economic opportunities and the preservation of this stunning landscape for future generations. The National Parks and Wildlife Service remains tight-lipped regarding individual land acquisitions, emphasizing the need for commercial confidentiality.