Save Tullig from West Cork Distillers

West Cork Distillers' land-grab sets dangerous precedent

By Calvin Jones on January 20, 2022

In April 2020, Skibbereen based West Cork Distillers quietly purchased a small, disused farm spanning the rural townlands of Tullig and Reenascreena South in the heart of the West Cork countryside. The farm was fairly typical of small agricultural plots you'll find all over rural Ireland, with a mixture of improved and unimproved grassland, some remnant cutover bog and scrubland, along with a few disused farm buildings. This site sits amidst a broader patchwork-mosaic agricultural landscape that defines the character of rural West Cork.

Clonakilty-based selling agent, Henry O'Leary, described the 26.5 acre farm as "the perfect hobby farm at an affordable price". It is unlikely aspirations of hobby farming were on West Cork Distillers' agenda, but for an expanding Irish whiskey exporter on the hunt for cheap space, the €200,000 guide price must have ticked a lot of boxes.

In July 2021, the distillery submitted plans to Cork County Council for a huge industrial warehousing complex on the site, comprising 16 warehouses covering a total area of 24,480 m2, and turned the lives of residents upside down.

Tullig/Reenascreena as it should be
Does this look like an appropriate place for an industrial warehousing development?

The community scrambled to coordinate opposition to this completely inappropriate industrial development on an unzoned agricultural site. Countless meetings, multiple press-releases, a new website ( and weeks of work later a comprehensive group submission and dozens of individual submissions went in to Cork County Council. In August 2021, planners deemed the original application invalid on a technicality and returned everything to West Cork Distillers.

It was a brief reprieve. On 23 December 2021, at the last possible minute before the Christmas break, and in the middle of the biggest Covid 19 surge Ireland had seen, West Cork Distillers submitted a revised planning application, this time for 12 warehouses with a total area of 18,360 m2.

Standing at the entrance to the site on a sunny January morning in 2022, the words rural idyl flutter at the periphery of my consciousness. Then I visualise what West Cork Distillers has planned for it and all notions of idyl shatter.

Green light for industrial land-grab will undermine rural communities

So here we are, heading into 2022 facing the threat of a massive industrial development on our doorsteps in rural West Cork once more. There are so many reasons this development is plain wrong: things like inadequate road infrastructure, the increased risk of downstream flooding, the incongruous visual impact of huge industrial buildings, the impact on biodiversity and ecology and much more besides.

These all apply to this particular development in this particular location. But there is a more insidious underlying threat, one with much broader impact. If Planning Authorities allow this arbitrary sequestration of low-cost agricultural land for industrial development to proceed, it sets a very dangerous precedent. Profit-hungry industrialists will get the green light to buy up cheap, unused agricultural plots across the country to build their large-scale commercial projects. It's a process that irrevocably alters the nature of the landscape, undermining the underlying fabric of rural communities. It destroys the very thing that makes rural Ireland so unique.

The word "appropriate" is used time and again throughout national and county development plans. It's hard to imagine anything less appropriate than a massive industrial warehousing complex off a single-track road in the heart of rural West Cork. Planning authorities need to stick by their documented policies and nip this nefarious practice in the bud, before it becomes widespread.

Let's send a clear message to West Cork Distillers, Cork County Council and the Irish Government. We don't want Ireland's rural heritage undermined by the unbridled greed of profit-hungry companies. Expand your business, by all means, but let's keep industrial development where it belongs... on suitably zoned industrial sites... and keep rural Ireland, well, for want of a better word, rural.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 04 February 2022 at 16:00. We'll have our guide to making your online submission to Cork County Council ready soon. Meanwhile, use the buttons below to explore more ways you can help... and please sign our online petition to show your support.

Article written by Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones is an author, freelance writer and naturalist who lives just down the road from the proposed development, in the adjacent townland of Clounkeen East. He is the founder of Ireland's Wildlife.

Thanks for update. I'll certainly never again purchase any of their product if this proceeds. Too clever by far.

  • Co Council Should Follow Their Own Guidelines.
    All Indudtrial Developements Proposed,
    Not Building On Unzoned Agricultural Land. (Tullig )
    Filling The Already Overstuffed
    Pockets of Developers.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Related Posts


    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This