The campaign for the establishment of a national park at the Conor Pass has intensified, as a second major landholding at the well-known Kerry beauty spot has been advertised for sale.
The latest landholding features lakes, an entire fishery and hundreds of acres of land. The guide price for the property is €1.5 million.
Situated in a glaciated valley at the foot of Cnoc Bréanainn (Mount Brandon), the Owenmore Fishery comprises nine lake, five miles of the Abhainn Mhór river, 300 acres of land and a derelict farmhouse.
It follows the advertisement in early August this year of 1,400 acres on the southern side of the Abhainn Mhór river. This larger holding, which includes two lakes and forestry is on offer for €10 million. At the time, the Taoiseach said the State would be interested in acquiring the property at the Conor Pass if it could be secured at a fair price.
Campaigners say the emergence of a second property on the market and the fact that the two properties on offer adjoin one another strengthens the case for their purchase as a national park.
Local Green Party activist Dr Peadar Ó Fionnáin says there is now a rare opportunity to buy a significant portion of land which holds "high ecological potential and value".
"The addition of this second holding in the Conor Pass really enriches the value of the initial holding because you now have the whole ecological system put together, from lakes, rivers, mountains down to the sea. Together you now seem to have the full package," Mr Ó Fionnáin said.
"It should be bought by the State for the people, as an amenity and particularly for the protection of nature and the encouragement of nature to return," he said.
The Owenmore fishery was purchased in 2005 by a member of the Roche family associated with the Roches Stores retail chain. It has since been managed under a fly-only, catch and release policy.
Prior to its sale in 2005 Comharchumann Forbartha an Leithriúigh had expressed interest in purchasing the fishery with a view to developing a community-led tourism enterprise. Local publican Mícheál Dowd said the establishment of a national park would offer a tremendous boost to an area like Clochán/Bréanainn and help halt rural decline.
"This is an opportunity not to be missed. We could develop a wonderful eco-tourism product here. We have an entire pristine river from source to sea, lakes full of salmon and trout, boglands and forestry. Imagine the stunning greenway and hill walks you could develop here," Mr Dowd said.
"A national park here would be a gamechanger for this area. It would allow local people who have emigrated to return and keep us populated and keep our community going," he added.
Michael H Daniels, the auctioneer who is handling the sale of the latest property, said there has been intense interest in the property since it was first advertised on Wednesday. He also said that state agencies such as Inland Fisheries Ireland had been made aware of the sale.
It is understood that Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has also been informed of the second sale offer and is set to meet with campaigners to discuss the matter in the coming days.