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Independent.ie

Thursday 17 January 2019

North Leinster: 'The money is where the milk is'

Slyguff Lodge on 65ac in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow sold at auction in May making €1.52m
Slyguff Lodge on 65ac in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow sold at auction in May making €1.52m
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

The land sale figures for North Leinster in 2018 tell a stark tale. The amount of land sold under the hammer at 2,421ac was down 17.5pc on 2017 while the amount of money generated by sales was back 33.5pc. The 2018 per-acre price slipped from €12,229 to €9,860 or 21pc below the 2017 level.

Nevertheless, the region saw some good transactiwith 42 auctions and six properties of more than 100ac selling under the hammer. The biggest farm of the year sold by public auction sold in North Leinster when a 203ac tillage and grass farm at Garristown, Dublin made €2m under the hammer of Thomas Potterton.

The most lucrative sale of the season, aside from a €5.8m farm in Cork, saw Goffs Country get €2.71m or €15,139/ac for Greenogue farm, a 179ac holding on the Dublin/Meath border.

Other significant sales included the auction of 91ac of tillage ground at Clarksville, Edenderry in Co Offaly that made €1.115m or €12,250/ac under the gavel of Matt Dunne.

Read also: Local farmers battle it out as 203ac Dublin holding makes €2m

The highest per-acre price was paid for a 10ac parcel of grazing ground at Oristown, Kells sold by Raymond Potterton making €200,000. Another strong per-acre price was the €14,354 paid for 62ac of ground at Kilglynn, Kilcock in an auction conducted by Coonans of Maynooth. Gordon Cobbe of GVM, Tullamore got €14,000/ac for a 10ac parcel of ground at Derrinboy, Offaly while towards the end of the year Raymond Potterton saw €13,000/ac paid for a 30ac farm at Newhaggard near Trim in Co Meath.

This 179ac farm at Greenogue between Ashbourne and Swords on the Dublin-Meath border made €2.7m or €15,139/ac when it was sold at a Goffs Country auction in October
This 179ac farm at Greenogue between Ashbourne and Swords on the Dublin-Meath border made €2.7m or €15,139/ac when it was sold at a Goffs Country auction in October

Like many of his colleagues, Stephen Barry of Raymond Potterton auctioneers is surprised at the drop in the per-acre price and the decline in the volume of land sold in the region. "My sense is that it was a good year given all the problems with the weather and fodder," he said.

Read also: The 'wow' factor: See behind the scenes of this magnificent 230ac farm on the market in Kildare

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Variety

"We sold over 90pc of the land on our books and we are left with only two holdings to sell. You must remember that the region contains a variety of land types from the northern and western parts to the strong tillage land in east Co Meath, North Dublin and Louth.

Mullingar auctioneer Padraic Murtagh says the dairy farmer is the key player in the land market. "In certain regions where there is a greater concentration of dairy farming there is a buoyant land market," he said. Trim auctioneer Thomas Potterton saw more activity on the private treaty market last year. "If you don't have a keen customer neighbouring the property private treaty is the better option," he said. Kells auctioneer Robert Nixon believes the weather had quite an effect on the land market in North Leinster, especially among beef farmers. "Where you have dairy farmers the market is good and there is competition for good land but the beef trade is poor and in traditional beef areas this can be seen in land prices."

Mr Nixon says in North Leinster farmers are more conscious of the challenges posed by Brexit given the proximity of the Border and may be more cautious than their southern counterparts when it comes to investment in land. Dillon Murtagh of Murtagh Brothers agrees Brexit is a key issue.

Read also: VIDEO: 'It’s the sort of ground you would stop to look at' - 85ac farm comes to the market in Meath

"With the end-of-March Brexit deadline looming, just when we begin advertising land, many prospective buyers are holding off until they see how that pans out.

"Immediately after the original Brexit vote we had a sizeable amount of sales to sterling buyers anxious to keep a foot in both camps but as the value of sterling has declined those customers have disappeared," he said. He is not surprised by the contrast in land prices between North Leinster and other regions. "There is a big divide between dairy country to the south and the predominantly beef and sheep farming in this area. Prices in these sectors are at rock bottom at the factory gate or in terms of exports. The money is in milk," he said.

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