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To gauge an understanding of how boundaries are perceived in Ireland by landowners

Author - Daragh O'Brien, Dr. Patrick Prendergast

 

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5. Social boundaries

However, for the undeveloped countries, access to credit is not as important as the way they value their land. The same is for western democracies. People value land for spiritual, social, & economic reasons, it is not just something people walk on (Williamson et al, 2010). Irish people for instance, have had a long affection with land and Irish boundaries and boundary disputes have been famously depicted in literature and film. This connection to land has been highlighted by Patrick Kavanagh in his 1938 poem, “Epic”, which described a violent row between neighbours.

    “…who owned/that half a rood of rock, a no-man's land/ Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims./I heard the Duffy’s shouting "Damn your soul…” (Brien et al, 1972, pg. 136)

More recently the 1990 Hollywood movie, “The field” was written by John B. Keane as a play in 1965, featuring “The Bull McCabe” who did all he could to save (murdering the purchaser of the land) the land he loved from being sold at public auction. What is impressive about “Epic” and “The field” is the timelessness of the writing. They both continue to be applicable in modern Irish life and have not lost relevance in the years of writing where one witnesses land and boundary disputes cases in the courtrooms of modern Ireland.

6. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This aim of this research is to assess the knowledge of boundaries of landowners of Irish Property (property located on the island of Ireland) and to gain an overall perspective of how property boundaries are perceived in Ireland. An electronic survey of landowners was conducted using SurveyGizmo and a link to the survey was provided on the research website, www.boundarydisputesireland.com. The questionnaire was available also in postal form. In order to make people aware of the research and to complete the questionnaire, it was necessary to promote the research project in a number of National and Regional newspapers such as, the Irish Independent, a feature article was written on the research project in the Irish Times by renowned journalist Mr. Frank McNally, and a large number of regional newspapers. The questionnaire attempts to collect information on the issues and problems being experienced in relation to property boundaries. It also collects a broad spectrum of different opinions on the subject matter and how people perceive their own boundaries and what was their knowledge of the land/plots they owned. Figure 5

The Questionnaire was divided into two separate sections, a survey on Boundaries for Landowners who own Residential Properties in urban areas and a survey on Boundaries for Landowners in rural settings. The questions asked include, do they know they own the lands to the middle of the road? What boundary features surround the property? Did professionals check the boundaries? Do they know where their property is registered?

A pilot study was performed among twelve relevant professionals including Architects, Barristers, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Solicitors and Land Surveyors to ensure the questions were relevant and understood. On the basis of the pilot study results, numerous alterations were made to the questionnaire and once amendments were completed the survey was published for general release after receiving ethical approval. Considerable effort was made from the outset, in the questionnaire design, that the questionnaire would reach the target population and maximise responses.  

7. Limitations of Research

A number of limitations were encountered in this process. The main ones being:

  • It was apparent when analysing the data from the surveys, that some of the questions posed at the start of the survey were too detailed. This led to a number of surveys being abandoned (91 rural & 77 urban) or partially completed (39 rural & 8 urban). In hindsight the questionnaire was possibly too detailed and thus completing it was too time consuming for respondents.

  • Some questions may have been inappropriate to which people were not comfortable in answering, such as asking people to elaborate on the issues they have with their boundary.The study had a relatively small response rate; a total of 86 respondents.

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