Local people in Fanad are escalating their campaign to restore access to one of Donegal’s most beloved beauty spots, which has been blocked off since the beginning of the week.
A turnstile and path leading to the beach at the Great Pollet Sea Arch have been blocked by the landowner, who has wrapped barbed wire around the gate and is turning away tourists from the entrance.
Locals have organised a petition, Facebook group and will protest to restore access to the location they hold with much pride. At the time of publishing, there are over 400 signatures on an online petition calling to ‘Protect the Right of Way to the Great Arch in Fanad’.
A peaceful protest called ‘March to the Arch’ will be held tomorrow, Saturday 24th June as locals plan to show support for the restoration of access. The group plans to meet at 12noon at the gateway on the Pollaid road.
Organiser Declan Dorrian said: “The recent events have sparked outrage amongst locals and visitors alike. The Great Arch in Pollaid, near Fanad Head is a huge tourist attraction for many years with access never being a problem for the generations before us.
“We as a community must stand together to protect this Right of Way and to promote the tourism in our peninsula. The group hope to see as many locals and visitors as possible at the protest to show how important it is to keep our right of ways open and to fight for what’s right.”
Donegal Daily can confirm that Donegal County Council is currently examining the legal elements of the case in order to determine if action can be taken.
A statement from the council said: “The Council is aware of this ongoing situation at this location. The Council is currently seeking to establish the legal position with regard to the action taken, which appears to have been taken by private individuals, in advance of determining what role, if any, the Council may have in resolving same.”
Local Representatives are also working on getting the relative information.
The Great Pollet Sea Arch is considered an iconic hidden gem of Fanad and a favourite of explorers and photographers. Visitors had previously reached the secluded beach via a turnstile to a pathway that leads down to the beach.
It is understood that the former landowner who previously owned the land allowed visitors to pass through a right of way to access the beach. The current owner has now blocked the site and put up No Trespassing and Private Property signs.
Fanad resident Ed Coll said he has seen the owner turning tourists from Germany and Italy away from the gate and has raised his concerns about the closure:
“He said it’s not a right of way, it’s his property and nobody is allowed on it,” Ed told Donegal Daily.
Ed said the landowner and locals met in a ‘standoff’ on Tuesday night after further measures were taken to block entry.
“He had a digger come to put rocks into the turnstile. Some locals went to see what was going on and there was an exchange.”
“It’s a beautiful place and we have tourists coming here every day, but nobody is getting to see the Great Arch. It’s hard to find at the best of times and when you can’t use the normal route you can’t get to see it,” Ed said.
Mary Doherty of Fanad Walks Donegal said the path has been a designated right of way for as long as she has been leading walks in the area.
“As far I know it has been used by the people of Fanad for a lifetime and a half. Now they (the owner) have padlocked the gate and put barbed wire around the turnstile.
“These people come here for two weeks of the year, and this is how they spend their holidays.
“When we did the Fanad Coastal Walk years ago they did acknowledge that there was a right of way but now they have locked it completely.”
Mary said there is another access route to the beach by Doagh Beg, while the commonly known right of way was always via the Pollaid Road.Tags: