State forestry company Coillte has bought 400 acres of Lord Waterford’s Curraghmore lands in Portlaw for €3.7m, under a deal which will settle a long-running legal battle over the preservation of historic walls around the estate.
Collite has also returned 500 acres to its owners, including 100 acres immediately adjacent to the village, following allegations that the company was not maintaining the lands they leased on the 2,000-acre estate. It settles a High Court dispute which commenced in February, when Coillte found themselves facing a demand for the land in Curraghmore to be returned to its owners. The land had been rented to the State for forestry in November 1933 on a 150-year lease by Lord Waterford’s father John Charles de la Poer, the seventh marquis of Waterford.
The benefit of the lease was vested in Coillte from January 1st, 1989 and, under it, Coillte was required to maintain and repair all walls, ditches, drains, roads and pathways on the estate.
However the estate, which is described as important in terms of its architectural heritage and ecology, was said to have fallen into ‘considerable disrepair’, despite Coillte having been served with a legal ‘forfeiture notice’ in April 2005. Lawyers representing Lord Waterford said Coillte was guilty of ‘persistent breach of the lease’ of the estate, with complaints that internal and external walls had been badly damaged by trees growing alongside them.
The new agreement means Coillte will continue to own the trees growing on the lands released back to Lord Waterford and will be able to realise their value when they are harvested in stages up to 2035.