52ac farm basks in the shadow of Nephin peak
Two-storey residence in need of refurb comes with a wide range of sheds
The new section of motorway skirting Galway and linking Gort to Tuam is a marvellous addition to travel in the west. In the recent past, my journey north to Ballina would have taken the bones of four hours, but thanks to the new developments I was able to get there in less than two and a half.
It is also a lovely drive and while some motorways are quite soulless and industrial, the new M17 has maintained the connection with its surroundings. Its predecessor, the N17, was made famous by The Sawdoctors who sang of the stone walls and the green grass - well the four-lane successor is surrounded by the same green fields and stone walls. It is difficult to keep your eyes on the road as the patchwork of neat fields and undulating countryside are a constant distraction.
In Ballina, local auctioneer Karl Fox of Fox and Gallagher takes me to Crossmolina and a lovely 52ac residential farm at a place called Gortnaraby on the outskirts of the town. The property is guided at €450,000 and comes with farm payments of €8,076 per annum.
It isn't often you find a farm within walking distance of the local town on a country road with street lights. The one at Gortnaraby is such a place - any new owner will be able to walk to the local shop, chapel or hostelry.
Gortnor Abbey, one of the biggest secondary schools in Mayo, is a short walk in the other direction. The farm is also within walking distance of Lough Conn in a landscape dominated by the Nephin Mountain whose snow-capped crown towers over the countryside.
I was slightly confused by two different spellings in use for the locality. The townsland is certainly spelled 'Gortnaraby' while the school is 'Gortnor Abbey'. The Irish for the townsland is 'Gort na Ráibe' which might mean "the field of the sprint" or "Sprintfield". The school was once the local 'big house' and owned by the Ormsby family, but was taken over by the religious order of Jesus and Mary in 1916. The landed gentry and the good nuns probably thought Gortnor Abbey had a certain ring to it.
Whatever about the place-name and its spelling, the locality is home this fine 52ac farm. A long tree-sheltered avenue leads to the farmstead which is made up of a traditional two-storey residence set back from the road with a substantial yard.
In good structural condition, the dwelling hasn't been lived in for a number of years and is in need of total refurbishment.
The accommodation includes an entrance hall, two reception rooms, a kitchen, scullery, bathroom and three bedrooms upstairs with some fine views across to Lough Conn.
The yard is a mixture of old and new, with a wide range of sheds that includes an old milking parlour. There are two traditional cubicle sheds, a three-bay slatted shed, a two-storey granary, a calf shed with cubicles, a five-bay slatted shed, a three column haybarn with lean-to, a cattle crush, feed silo and holding pens. While some of the buildings are dated, they nevertheless combine to make up a useful yard.
Set out in seven fields all around the homestead, the farm has 700m of frontage on to a local road.
In the main, the land is comprised of good solid grazing ground, gently undulating and divided by traditional hedgerow and some electric fencing.
Like all land, it has had to absorb a lot of rain over the last month but is holding up well given the conditions.
There are a few lovely sweeping fields with a fine crown of land across the middle of the farm and plenty of shelter from hedgerow and trees.
A ring-fort encircled by a band of magnificent old trees stands on a hillock overlooking the homestead, while in the distance, Nephin Mountain rises into the clouds.
The farm is for sale by private treaty and, according to Karl Fox, is attracting huge interest, particularly in recent days.
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