It has long been recognised that a private right of way may arise without express permission through long use. Generally a public right of way is established by proof that the landowner dedicated the way to the public. Where dedication is not explicit, it can be inferred from the circumstances.

The Supreme Court has held, in the recent case relating to rights of way over the grounds of Lissadell House, that it must be reasonable to infer or presume that the landowner, being aware of open regular public use exercised as of right for a long time over his land, has dedicated those rights to the public. While a court may find that particular evidence of long uninterrupted use of a way by the public indicates that the owner dedicated the way to the public, it is not obliged to make such a finding.

Contrary to the High Court Decision, the Supreme Court found that no public rights of way through the Lissadell Estate existed save for a small part of an avenue with access to the coast.