Tillage farmers were very active in the market, especially in the stronger tillage areas along the east and south-east.
The biggest land sale by public auction recorded in the survey took place in January with the sale of Dowth Hall on the banks of the Boyne in Co Meath.
The 420ac residential estate sold for €5m, or €12,000/ac, in an auction conducted by Robert Ganly, then with Knight Frank.
Next in line came the sale of the 274ac farm associated with St Edmundsbury Hospital at Lucan in Dublin which Jordan Auctioneers sold for €4.3m.
A representative of Davy Stockbrokers placed the final bid.
Two farms crossed the €3m mark beginning with the first auction of 2013 which saw a 206ac dairy farm at Toberslane, Carrigans, Co Donegal, sell for €3.1m under the hammer of Derry auctioneer Campbell Rankin of Galbraith & Co.
Next to make €3m was the 103ac Grangemore Stud, home of the late John Colleran, on the Curragh of Kildare.
It sold for €30,000/ac in a sale conducted by Newbridge auctioneer Paddy Jordan.
The €2m point was passed in two transactions. These included the auction of a 121ac tillage field in Stradbally, Co Laois, which was handled by Mullingar auctioneer Jimmy Murtagh where the stubble ground sold under the hammer for €2.165m or €18,000/ac.
Another sale of note was the 410ac Ginnets Park Stud near Trim, Co Meath.
It sold for €2.15m or just more than €5,000/ac.
A total of 12 farms made more than €1m, with the strongest being a 125ac non-residential tillage farm at Clonroche, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. It sold for €1.86m or €14,800/ac.
The highest per-acre price of the year was paid when a 20ac residential stud farm at Castlewarden near Straffan, Co Kildare, made €36,600/ac or €732,000.
In total, the 158 auctions recorded in the survey involve the sale of 8,216ac of land selling for a total of €86.2m.
North Leinster: 39 transactions hit average of €10k/ac
The survey covers 39 land sales in North Leinster, which includes the counties of Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly. In these counties, more than 2,480ac of land changed hands for an accumulated total of €24,974,850, giving an average of price of €10,070/ac.
The region boasted the biggest land sale in the country when Dowth Hall, on 420ac near Drogheda but in the Royal County of Meath, sold for €5m. Other notable sales included the sale of the 274ac St Edmundsbury Hospital farm at Lucan, Co Dublin, for €4.3m.
The highest per-acre price was paid for 19ac at Killsallaghan, Co Dublin, which was sold by Ganly Walters for €25,000/ac, while a 410ac mixed Farm at Ginnets Park, near Trim, Co Meath, and a 16ac parcel at Brannockstown, Trim, both sold for €5,000/ac. The lowest price was paid for forestry land near Edgeworthstown in Longford which sold for €2,200/ac.
Of the 39 properties sold in this region, only one property made less than €5,000/ac, five properties made between €5,000 and €7,000/ac, 11 made between €7,000 and €10,000/ac, 10 holdings made between €10,000 and €12,000/ac, four made between €15,000 and €20,000/ac and one property made over €20,000/ac.
While the average per-acre price paid was a very respectable €10,070, there was a wide disparity in prices as can be seen from the gap between the highest and the lowest prices paid.
Paul Murtagh of Murtagh Brothers, Mullingar, remarked that most of the land sold by his firm would struggle to reach that price, a fact supported by Thomas Potterton of Trim, who said an average price of between €8,000 and €10,000/ac would be more reflective.
In Co Louth, Peter Flynn of Robert Daly and Co maintained that the average price for tillage land in the Louth area was closer to €11,000/ac in 2013. The average per acre price might be somewhat skewed by strong Dublin prices averaging €16,000/ac.
All three auctioneers agreed that accessibility, road frontage and location in good farming areas were vital for the achievement of a good price.
"If you have no farmer in the locality interested in the property, you will not have a sale and if you do sell, you will not get a good price," said Thomas Potterton.
They maintained there was good confidence in the agricultural sector, especially dairy, but Mr Potterton cautioned that the edge went off the land market in the latter part of the year.
There was also general agreement that financial institutions were more willing to lend to farmers than to any other sector, coupled with a belief there appeared to be residues of 'old money' or 'Celtic Tiger cash' in certain sections of the farming community and when it came to safeguarding their reserves, they regarded land as the safest option for investment.
South Leinster: Biggest sale was €3m Grangemore
The most expensive land in Ireland is to be found in South Leinster where the average price paid was €13,486/ac.
Of the 158 auctions covered in the survey, 56 took place in this region accounting for the sale of a total of 2,403ac of land that made €32,408,500.
The biggest sale of the year in this region happened in December when Grangemore Stud, home of the renowned breeder, the late John Colleran, was sold by Jordan Auctioneers of Newbridge, Co Kildare, for €3m. The property exceeded its guide by €1m and netted €30,000/ac. A field of stubble extending to 121ac at Stradbally, Co Laois, was next with a sale price of €2.165m, which equated to €18,000/ac. Five other farms in the region breached €1m .
The highest per-acre price in the country was paid for ground in South Leinster when €36,600 was paid for a 20ac stud farm sold by Coonans at Castlewarden, Kildare. The lowest price paid in the region was €7,000/ac for lands at Ballyknock in Wexford and Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare.
Thirteen properties achieved between €7,000 and €10,000/ac, while 26 properties made between €10,000 and €15,000/ac. Thirteen holdings sold for between €15,000 and €20,000/ac, while two farms made more than €20,000/ac, another €30,000/ac and one made more than €35,000/ac.
Auctioneers are confident land prices will remain strong through 2014. The abolition of milk quotas will continue to drive demand from the dairy sector, with overall milk production in the region forecast to increase by more than 60pc over the next five years. Similarly, tillage farmers and equestrian interests have been hunting land.
Estate agents Phillip Byrne of Coonans, Maynooth, and Paddy Jordan have a range of clients looking for both tillage and stud farms in the region of between 100 and 300ac.
Both auctioneers acknowledge that there appears to be substantial quantities of cash around for land purchase on the part of domestic and foreign buyers.
"Earlier in the year we sold the derelict Liffey View Stud in Wicklow to an Irishman living in Qatar who intends to invest significant funds in its refurbishment," explained Mr Byrne.