Ring fort in County KerryGoogle Images

A 64-year-old farmer has been fined €25,000 ($33,000) for destroying a 1,000-year-old ring fort, which was recognized as a national monument.

In the first case of its kind in an Irish court, John O'Mahony (64) pleaded guilty to carrying out work on the fort, located on his land at Causeway, Co.Kerry, in February 2008. The farmer failed to notify the National Monuments Service in advance.

O’Mahony owns around 40 acres of land in North Kerry, which included the ring fort and a series of sou-terrains  (underground tunnels). The ring fort was a protected national monument of historical significance.

The court heard that in February 2008, most of the ring fort was destroyed by heavy machinery when he hired workers to demolish the protected area of land. He had just purchased the land where the ring fort was located two months previous to this. The court heard that the material was used to fill in a pond he thought posed a risk to children and livestock.

The Kerry farmer had not sought permission from the National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and restoration of the fort was not possible.

The defendant was aware of the existence of the protected monument as he had objected to planning application for the site on the grounds that the land contained "an historical ring fort".

His attorney, John O’Sullivan, said that his client had apologized and that he did not fullly understand the implications.

"He did a silly thing for what he thought were the right reasons. He's brought a lot of trouble on himself for really very little gain," said O'Sullivan.