Jack Quann
Jack Quann

12.05 18 Sep 2020


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A Kerry musician has erected over 200 wooden crosses in his field, as part of an ongoing protest against rural planning policies.

Brendan Begley had difficulties getting planning permission to build a house for himself at the foot of Mount Brandon.

In March, he said he would park a cabin on his land in protest.

He said he was refused permission for a number of reasons - including that he had not proven he was from the area.

Kerry County Council claimed the structure would have been unduly obtrusive on the landscape, and set a precedent for undesirable ribbon development of a suburban nature.

It also said that out of 58 planning application sites in the area between March 2015 and December 2019, 43 were granted.

But Brendan has stepped up his campaign.

He told Pat Kenny: "I had a choice then: moving to Dingle, or else get a camper van and drive it on my land.

"So I decided to build my camper van, and that's what I did.

"I bought an arctic truck and I built my house on top of it and I drove it on to my land.

"And since then they've been threatening me with two years in jail, or a bill of 12,000,600, etc.

"But I'm still fighting that case."

Brendan Begley in his field in Co Kerry Picture by: Mossy Donnegan

Asked if he thought he was being picked on by the council, he said: "I suppose I probably am, at this stage, I'm kind of just showing up the ridiculousness of the rules.

"To stop me from living on my own land and to allow me to have hens and geese or cattle living on my land - and all they ever talk about is views and prospects.

"I was born and raised here, Irish is my first language".

"I will build the house, I will pay the ESB for joining up to my house, I will pay the water charges for connection of water.

"And on top of that, I have to pay a development levy to Kerry County Council who have done absolutely nothing."

"Recently, Kerry Council Council built this huge steel structure in the most sensitive place in west Kerry - between Dunquin and the Great Blasket - this huge steel structure for tourists.

"So it seems like they'll bend over backwards for the tourists, and they just have no understanding whatsoever for the heritage that was passed om to us - and that's our villages.

"And I'll tell you Pat: nobody will get me out of my village".

He said plans to cluster people together in towns and villages were "with the best of intensions, but they're having the adverse of affect."

"Of driving us out of these clusters, of creating new clusters for no apparent reason.

"Dingle people are not too happy about that, either, that villages are being created around Dingle that never existed there.

"We have our estates, we have our clusters - just let us live in our estates".

Brendan Begley in his field in Co Kerry Picture by: Mossy Donnegan

"There were three houses built in my village - fairly big houses - in the 60s, and they were all within the cluster.

"But then the council brought out these rules that you had to have a quarter of an acre or a half an acre before you'd be deemed getting planning permission.

"So that caused people to move out of the villages, so it was their own rules that caused people to move out of the clusters."

He said the wooden crosses represent the population of his village in 1841 - this population dropped to just 28 by 1851 after they were driven off the land.

He explains: "Lord Ventry's agent Stokes came along in the middle of March and drove out 122 people, and as far as we know they had died in the side of the road.

"Figures are just figures, but I just wanted to give a visual impact.

"I was going to do it with cars first - 232 cars - and then I was going to do it with people, but you couldn't really with the virus thing.

Brendan Begley in his field in Co Kerry Picture by: Mossy Donnegan

"Then I got the idea would I do it with crosses; so I just bought this timber, and paint and screws and that's all they were".

"In the middle of that I've put 12 red crosses because on any given moment, there's only about 12 people in that village.

"And in 20 years time, there'll be nobody in that village".

He added: "You can beat City Hall if the people stand up together - what's happening here is not just a Kerry thing, it's happening all over Ireland."

"Laws are there to facilitate the people, not to punish them".

Main image: Brendan Begley in his field in Co Kerry. Picture by: Mossy Donnegan

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Brendan Begley Clusters Crosses Kerry Kerry County Council Planning Permission Towns Villages

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