County Kerry Farmer who destroyed ring fort fined

A farmer has been fined 25,000 euros by a court in Tralee for destroying a 1,000-year-old ring fort which was a protected national monument.

John O'Mahony, 64, pleaded guilty to carrying out work on the fort on his farm, without notifying the National Monuments Service in advance.

Mr O'Mahony farms around 40 acres at Clashmealcon near Causeway in Kerry.

A ring fort and series of underground tunnels thought to have been built over 1,000 years ago were on the land.

In February 2008, Mr O'Mahony hired workers to demolish the majority of the ring fort.

The court was told that the material was used to fill in a pond which Mr O'Mahony believed was dangerous. Most of the ring fort was destroyed by heavy machinery.

The court was told Mr O'Mahony had not sought permission and restoration of the fort was not possible.

Mr O'Mahony knew of the existence of the ring fort, because he had previously objected to a planning application there on the grounds that the land contained "an historical ring fort".

He had only bought the lands two months before work on the ring fort was carried out.

His barrister, John O'Sullivan, said Mr O'Mahony apologised. He said his client did not know he had to seek permission for the work and did not understand the implications.

Judge Carroll Moran said ownership of property is a right, but this right was not "unfettered" and was qualified by the fact that property was held in trust for the culture of the country.

At a previous hearing he warned that "a marker" would have to be put down when it came to imposing sentence.

The maximum penalty which Mr O'Mahony faced was five years in prison and/or a fine of 50,000 euros.