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Saturday 3 December 2016

A tillage treasure in the midlands

Jim O'Brien walks a 318ac Laois tillage and grazing holding which is on the market for just over €10,000/ac

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

An aerial view of the 227ac at Ballygeehan which is part of the overall sale of 318ac in the heart of Laois farming country.
An aerial view of the 227ac at Ballygeehan which is part of the overall sale of 318ac in the heart of Laois farming country.
The residence with the land at Ballacolla is of Georgian vintage and requires complete refurbishment
The extensive outbuildings include a large high roofed modern four-bay shed

Ballacolla is at the heart of good farmland in Laois and a substantial farm extending to 318ac in the area has come on the market with a guide price of €3.1m or €10,000/ac.

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The farm is split between Ballacolla and Aghaboe with a house, sheds and 227.3ac located at Ballygeehan Lower near Ballacolla and another 90ac located about 7km away at Skeagh, Aghaboe.

The November day was crisp and bright as I made my way up the M7 to Junction 21 where I turned for Borris-on-Ossory and got back on the old Dublin Road. A mile outside the town I took a right for Ballacolla taking the Durrow road. I rarely pass up an opportunity to go to Laois having spent 13 happy years in that lovely county. All the place-names are as familiar to me as those of my home county and bring back many fond memories.

I pass the magnificent ruins of Aghaboe Abbey, and turn left to visit the first parcel of ground, 90ac of land in stubble and grass in the townsland of Skeagh. Located down a narrow boreen that I'm assured is a public road, the section close to the road is elevated and sweeps down to lower ground.

In the pale, yellow winter sunlight the fields look beautiful as the perfect rows of stubble stretch off from the road in a sweep of land that is firm under foot and as good a piece of tillage ground as you'll get anywhere.

Laid out in the shape of a hammer, the parcel is divided into about eight fields bounded on the outside by carefully managed fencing.

Five of the fields are in tillage and three in grass. The property is bounded by the River Gully at one end and has road frontage on the minor road at the other.

This particular parcel can be bought separately from the main farm and would make an excellent stand alone piece of property or a fine add-on to an existing holding.

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I drive on to the lovely village of Ballacolla and 2km out the Abbeyleix road to the main farm at Ballygeehan, a house and yard on 227.3ac.

The farm is approached by a low key entrance leading to the yard while a track leads to the house. The farm centres around this solid, two-storey residence that hasn't been lived in for quite some time. It appears to be of Georgian vintage and a plaque on the wall shows that a dwelling stood here in the mid 1700s.

The house is in need of complete refurbishment and the accommodation includes a sitting room, living room, study, kitchen and utility with four bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.

The rooms are spacious and the building appears to be in good structural order.

The house is adjacent to a fine farmyard with an expansive concrete apron and a series of useful sheds including a large high roofed modern four-bay shed with two bays capable of storing loose grain or machinery and two equally high locked bays with roller doors.

Across the yard is a three-column haybarn with a six-column lean-to currently used for fodder storage but also suitable for livestock accommodation while adjacent to that is a six column haybarn where a lean-to faces a five column lean-to across a central feeding passage.

There are a series of old stone buildings that once formed the courtyard of the old house, a number of cattle handling facilities and a concrete silage pit.

Elevated crown

The land is made up of fine tillage and grazing ground. Stretching off behind the house and sheds, are 198ac of land that is firm underfoot, mainly under stubble and well minded. Some of it tapers off to low lying ground but there is a tremendous, elevated crown of land running through the middle.

Across the road is a further 29ac of equally good, elevated ground in a mixture of grass and stubble This section is in great heart with plenty of road frontage.

The hedges throughout the entire farm are all well trimmed and the galvanised tubular gates are well hung.

The farm can be sold in two lots or as an entire with the 90.27ac at Aghaboe guided at €850,000 or almost €9,500/ac. The main farm at Ballygeehin extending to 227.3ac with the house and sheds is guided at €2.25m while the entire is guided at €3.1m.

The farm will be sold at auction by Ganly Walters at 3pm on Wednesday, December 16 at the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise.

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