Farm Ireland

Friday 27 April 2018

Ancestral homeplace of Mormon pioneer Major Howard Egan is on the market in Offaly

The farm extends to 83ac including this 43ac block of summer grazing
The farm extends to 83ac including this 43ac block of summer grazing
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

I hadn't heard of Tullamore poet Edward Egan or his colourful cousin, Major Howard Egan until last week, when I met Gordon Cobbe of GVM on an 83ac residential farm at a place called the Meelaghans on the outskirts of the Offaly county town.

The farm will be auctioned next month and has a guide price of €600,000.

A cottage on the farm was home to Edward, a poet and author who died in 1940. It is also the ancestral home of Major Howard Egan, an Irish American Mormon adventurer who lived the quintessential life of the frontiersman until his death in 1878.

The Egan family emigrated to Canada in 1825. While his surviving siblings settled and married in Canada, Howard moved to the USA. He became a Mormon in 1842 and entered Salt Lake Valley with the first of the Mormon pioneers.

He was a messenger with the Mormon Battalion set up to defend the emerging religious group from attack and was one of the early explorers of Utah and California.

He was also a pioneer with the Pony Express and developed a notorious reputation for taking the law into his own hands when dealing with attacks from the Native Americans and outlaws.

The birthplace of American frontiersman Major Howard Egan is located at Meelaghans on the outskirts of Tullamore
The birthplace of American frontiersman Major Howard Egan is located at Meelaghans on the outskirts of Tullamore

Instrumental in the establishment of the Mormon Church, he became a bodyguard to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Howard Egan died in 1878 at 63 years of age. A journal he kept detailing his extraordinary life, entitled Pioneering the West, was published by his estate in 1917.

At around the time Howard died Edward was born into the house where the adventuring Egan first saw the light of day. Edward's life may not have been quite as exciting as that of his colourful cousin but he left behind a body of poetry and writings about his locality.

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Upon Edward's death in 1940 the house was bequeathed to a neighbouring family, the Dunnes.

The last surviving member of that family died some time ago and his relatives are bringing the property for sale.

Located at a crossroads on the Portarlington road within 1km of Tullamore the lands have extensive frontage on the main road and two by-roads. A small 3ac portion is separated from the rest by the railway line.

While the property will be offered for sale in lots and as an entirety, Gordon Cobbe expects it to sell in its various lots.

The first lot is made up of 21ac of fine, dry grazing ground surrounding the current farmhouse, which is a three-bedroom prefabricated bungalow built in 1975.

A cosy dwelling the house has three bedrooms, a shower-room, a sitting room and a kitchen/living room.

Laid out in a series of elevated fields that are dry and in great heart, the land with the house has road frontage on to a local road and the main road between Tullamore and Portarlington. This lot is guided at between €220,000 and €250,000.

A lovely, sheltered 3ac field accessed by a level crossing over the railway line is guided at €25,000 to €30,000.

At the far side of the main road with frontage on two sides is a 43.2ac parcel of lower lying summer grazing. This portion is in good heart and laid out in a number of manageable fields.

According to Gordon Cobbe, it would make for ideal out-farm grazing ground or zero grazing land. It is guided at €220,000 or around €5,000/ac.

Further out the main road and adjoining land belonging to the famous Annaharvey Farm is a 15ac parcel of ground laid out in three fine fields fronting the main road.

This is powerful ground and produced a very healthy silage crop earlier in the year. It comes to auction with a guide of €110,000 or over €7,000/ac.

The farm is attracting widespread interest says Gordon Cobbe. "Location is everything and this farm is located in great farming country within minutes of Tullamore."

The place will be sold at auction at The Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore at 3pm on Friday, October 6.

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