‘Farmers are willing to open up their land if they get a bit of respect’ – rural Ireland resists ‘right to roam’… but is there an acceptable compromise?

Many farmers fear that allowing walkers onto their land is a threat to livestock, safety and privacy. But the Keep Ireland Open campaign argues for the economic and social benefits of improved access. Meanwhile marked trails offering controlled access have been a success in some parts of the country

The walkway on Harold Kingston’s West Cork farm

Azmia Riaz

A nationwide campaign for the right to access private farmland for recreational purposes and the right of way for walkers has been met with resistance by some farmers and landowners.

Set up in 1994, Keep Ireland Open has been campaigning for the right to access mountains, seashores, lakes and rivers, and for the legal right for people to walk through private land and commonages, no matter how remote.