It's very quiet on the western front

Just two farms sold at auction in Connacht/Ulster in the first six months of 2019

On the market: Most land in Connacht/Ulster is sold by private treaty. This 167ac farm at Ballinaheglish, about 15km west of Roscommon town, is currently sale agreed under private treaty
On the market: Most land in Connacht/Ulster is sold by private treaty. This 167ac farm at Ballinaheglish, about 15km west of Roscommon town, is currently sale agreed under private treaty
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

The auction scene in Connacht Ulster is always quieter than the rest of the country with private treaty being by far the favoured route for land sales in this region.

Indeed there are more private treaty land sales in Co Mayo each year than in any other part of the country.

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A survey of public auctions is not really reflective of the overall state of the land market in either Connacht or Ulster but I do know from contacts in the regions that sales have been quiet in 2019.

It is only to be expected that the uncertainty of Brexit would have a profound impact on the border counties of Ulster and the neighbouring counties of Leitrim and Sligo.

There were two auctions recorded in the region and published in the national papers between January and June of 2019.

These consisted of an 11ac non-residential holding at Carrownageeragh near Boyle that sold by Vincent Egan for €143,000 making €13,000/ac. The second sale saw a 52ac non-residential farm at Gort in Co Galway sold by Colm Farrell. While these figures show a sharp decline of over 64pc on the number of acres sold by auction this time last year and a decline of over 60pc on the amount of money generated it is hard to draw any firm conclusions.

Colm Farrell would agree with the general thrust of the finding,

"The land market has been very quiet in this part of the country, it's all about dairy and there is a very small dairy presence in Connacht.

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"The action in is the equine and dairy country in Munster and to a certain extent in Leinster," he said.

"Anyone in beef and sheep is making a loss and the demand for land from sheep and beef farmers is non-existent," he said.

Roscommon auctioneer Ivan Connaughton points to the age-structure of farmers in the area where the profile is much older.

"Many of the farmers are part- time but the farm is supported by another income. That second income is unlikely to be used to support the buying of land," he said.

Lull

In Bailieborough Peter Murtagh echoes the comments of other auctioneers when he describes the market as quiet. "Some stuff we put to auction at the end of 2018 was sold by private treaty in spring and is chugging its way through the solicitors at the moment.

"Unfortunately there is nothing very exciting to report on land sales in this area. Like everyone else we are waiting to see what Boris will be like."

Based in Dundalk, auctioneer Raymond Fee handles land sales in the border counties of Monaghan and Louth. He sees a definite lull in the land market and echoes what others are saying in relation to beef and Brexit.

"There's uncertainty, there's fear about the future in relation to the UK leaving the EU and the beef industry itself irrespective of Brexit. I've noticed that vendors don't want to go to the market until things are more certain," he said.

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