The west Kerry musician Breanndán O’Beaglaíoch (Brendan Begley) has secured permission for “the tiniest of houses” in his native townland of Baile na bPoc, Baile na nGall, after an epic battle with planning authorities spanning 15 years.
He has also announced a rural dwellers campaign.
Word came through today that An Bord Pleanála had finally granted permission to remove an existing mobile dwelling and construct a single story dwelling, of traditional design with natural stone facing.
Kerry County Council had refused planning for the 50 square metre house on the grounds it would be “unduly obtrusive on the landscape”, would seriously injure the visual amenities and contribute to ribbon development.
Several individuals and bodies such as Conradh na Gaeilge, University professors from Uppsala in Sweden, from Maynooth and other institutions and locals like the broadcaster Philip King had written to the council urging them to grant the Irish speaker and musician planning for his house.
Mr Begley, who will turn 65 on Sunday, said he was in his 40s when he had begun seeking planning to live on the lands at the foot of Mount Brandon where generations of his family had lived and where he was born.
He has spent up to €25,000 on trying to secure planning and thousands of letters and a lot of his time.
This success would be the start of a campaign to change planning in the new 2022-2028 Kerry County Development plan, he said.
The current planning policies of Kerry County Council were forcing people into towns and big villages created by planners and this was harming the Irish language, he said.
In some townlands, second homes granted planning by the council during the Celtic Tiger era and used for just a few weeks of the year outnumbered permanent ones, and local young people who wanted to live permanently in their native place were being refused now.
“This is a golden opportunity in the new plan to change the rules for the benefit of us,” he said.
The campaign is not just about Gaeltacht. It is about preserving rural Hiberno-English, too, and its way of life, the way of life of the late philosopher John Moriarty at the foot of Mangerton and others, Mr Begley said.
Just 12 people live permanently in Baile na bPoc now, less than half the number of the 1970s, and well below the 234 people who lived there in 1841.
The council has denied it was discriminating against Gaeltacht communities, saying between March 2015 and December 2019, some 43 of the 58 applications for houses in west Kerry were given permission. This was a grant rate of over 70%.