Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Is this the largest field ever put up for sale in Ireland?

183ac property located at Lodge, about 5km from Hospital in Co Limerick
183ac property located at Lodge, about 5km from Hospital in Co Limerick
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

I've never set foot on one of those gargantuan collective farms in Eastern Europe but I drove past a few of them during visits to Germany. The sight of huge fields and industrial sized farmyards with acres of sheds was remarkable.

A 183ac property located at Lodge, about 5km from Hospital in Co Limerick reminded me of a collective farm when I went to see it last week.

The yard covers 7ac and includes an array of buildings that could hold up to 2,000 head of stock. There are silage pits with enough space to store fodder for a parish of farmers along with two massive grain silos, a milling unit and a slurry tank that is easily as big as a soccer pitch.

The 183ac of land is all in one field, earning the farm its local nickname, 'The Big Field'.

In a sale handled by GVM Kilmallock and John O'Connell auctioneer, Mallow, the place is for sale by private treaty with a guide price of €2m or almost €11,000/ac.

It was a crisp winter's morning when I met Richard Ryan of GVM at the padlocked gates. I wasn't sure if I was looking at a factory or a farm until he arrived and gave me the background. "The place was put together from a number of smaller holdings by a man from West Cork in the early 70s," he explains.

The farmyard at the Lodge near Hospital. Co Limerick
The farmyard at the Lodge near Hospital. Co Limerick

"The man was before his time. He built these huge Mastock sheds with slats before most people had heard of slats. He installed a rotary, motorised milking parlour, milled his own grain and was into zero grazing - all in the early 70s."

The farm was originally more extensive than the current 183ac and portions were sold over the years. As it stands, it was bought in the early 1980s by north Cork landowner John Broderick, now deceased, and is being sold by his representatives.

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Mr Broderick owned a number of farming properties and farmed extensively rather than intensively and so the land has been treated gently over the years. A new intensively-focussed owner will certainly make changes.

The land is undulating in nature, with extensive road frontage at one side. The higher ground is in great heart and holds a very decent green sward, while the farm dips to a lower section in the middle that is naturally softer in nature.

Some of the place could do with tilling and reseeding, nothing that would break the bank.

The yard is an amazing sight. While many of the buildings are showing their age, in their day they must have been virtual tourist attractions. An inventory of the facilities would be exhaustive but in a few words they include three double 18-column Mastock sheds 220ft in length - one of which is cubicled.

A single Mastock shed is also cubicled and there is an array of calving pens stretched out along a building as long as a street in a small town.

Some of the ironwork needs attention, but the slats are all in remarkable condition with little of the deterioration you see in the more modern versions. In its current state, the place has accommodation for around 500 head of stock, but at full capacity Richard Ryan reckons it could take up to 2,000.

Other facilities include three large walled silage pits, a huge open slurry pit, a 10-column haybarn with the remains of the rotary milking parlour, two lagoons once used for whey and an industrial grain store with large open bays and two large silos.

The cattle handling facilities include a double cattle crush with an elevated walkway between them. Across the road from the yard is a bungalow-sized office with industrial weighing scales adjacent.

While the preferred option for the vendors and the agents is to sell the farm as an entire, they are open to looking at smaller parcels if that is appropriate.

In its entirety the Lodge, or 'The Big Field' is one extraordinary place with great potential.

Indo Farming