Story From The Irish Mail on Sunday 21st Nov 2021 by Seán McCárthaigh
“PUBLIC access to one of the country’s finest dolmens is under threat from the proposed sale of a Nama-controlled site in south Dublin, according to local campaigners.
The lands off Brennanstown Road in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin, which were once owned by developer Johnny Ronan, provide one of the main access routes to the relatively unknown and secluded Glendruid Dolmen.
The dolmen is a protected national monument on private land in the Glendruid Valley. Also known as the Brennanstown Dolmen, it is regarded as one of the finest portal tombs in Ireland and is situated in a type of amphitheatre bounded on one side by the Carrickmines River.
The country’s 10th-largest dolmen, it is believed to date from around 4000BC, while its capstone is estimated to weigh 50 tonnes.
Walkers and local history enthusiasts have now formed the Glendruid Dolmen Public Forum (GDPF) and are calling for a condition to be attached to any sale of the property stipulating that the new owners guarantee public access to the site during and after any development.
The group has complained that the public right of access to the site is legally uncertain as various entry routes involve crossing private land, although the owner of the site where the dolmen is has not discouraged visitors.
However, the GDPF has said it has become increasingly difficult to visit the dolmen, with one access point at an underpass near the closed Luas stop at Brennanstown recently shut off by developers.
Locals point out that another large dolmen in the area in Kilternan is out of bounds.
GDPF spokeswoman Liz Pilkington said the dolmen plays a very important role in allowing current and future generations to learn about the country’s heritage.
‘It is a magical place. It’s a beautiful setting and it is amazing to have one of the biggest dolmens in the country on the outskirts of Dublin,’ said Ms Pilkington.
The GDPF has also called on Nama to postpone the sale of the land – bids are due to close next Thursday (November 25) – in order for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to consider the issue.
Councillors recently passed a motion directing the local authority to explore all options to ensure continued access to the dolmen.
Fine Gael councillor Barry Saul, who proposed the motion, said it was envisaged the council would liaise with Nama, the Office of Public Works, the Minister for Heritage and private landowners about maintaining access to the site.
An updated report on the issue is due to be presented to councillors at their meeting in January.
Mr Saul said there was a need to protect local heritage and maintain a diminishing amount of woodland and green area near Cherrywood, which is set to become home to 20,000 new residents.
‘I believe the various State agencies including the council, the OPW and Nama should come together to ensure a good outcome that allows structured access to a national monument,’ he added.
Estate agent CBRE is selling two lots totalling almost 30 acres known as the Brennanstown lands, with an estimated asking price of around €30m on behalf of a NAMA appointed receiver.
The property, which is mostly located within the Cherrywood Strategic Development Zone and extends to the Luas green line, has the capacity to accommodate almost 400 homes in a muchdesired location between the villages of Foxrock and Cabinteely.
However, the GDPF claims it is only the first lot that is relevant for access to the dolmen. This includes the former Glendruid Estate and the derelict Glendruid House, a protected structure built by a Quaker businessman, John Barrington, in the early 19th Century.
The group noted that most of the site consists of woodland with around nine acres zoned residential, with restrictions on buildings to a maximum of three storeys.
CBRE has estimated up to 170 housing units can be built there.
The Brennanstown lands were previously placed on the market in 2018 with an asking price of €35m but the sale was withdrawn after Mr Ronan issued High Court proceedings claiming he held rights of way across the property to adjacent
‘It’s one of the biggest dolmens in the country’
‘Concerns have been raised with receiver’
lands which he also owns. The action was eventually settled.
Asked about Nama’s willingness to consider protecting access to the dolmen, a spokesman pointed out that Nama does not directly own or sell properties and that the Brennanstown lands were under the control of a Mr McDonald [Declan McDonald, PWC Receiver appointed by NAMA].
However, the spokesman said the concern of locals had been raised with the receiver.
‘We have been advised that any further access routes through the lands for sale by the receiver are a decision for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the Cherrywood SDZ Development Agency,’ the spokesman added.
The OPW said it had a right of way to the site for maintenance. However, a spokesman said the OPW understood there was no public right of way to the monument.”
Update – 22nd November 2021
Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD wrote to the OPW a couple of weeks ago about the dolmen and received the following letter in response.