This 75ac stud farm with racing pedigree has a guide price of €1.4m
Millgrove stud near Rathangan in Kildare and Bracknagh in Offaly was a hive of activity when I arrived to visit. Manager Rob Byrne was not long home from Royal Ascot and the daily chores of mucking out were well under way.
The 75ac residential farm was once owned by Wally Swinbourne, father of Walter Swinbourne, jockey of the famous Shergar.
The senior Swinbourne bought the property in 1972 for £40,000 and it is now owned by a Galway businessman with equine interests. It comes to auction with a guide of between €1.4m and €1.5m.
My journey took me from the M7 across to Portarlington, through the village of Bracknagh. The farm is located outside the village and 8km from Rathangan.
It was an ideal morning for visiting any farm but especially a stud farm. As the morning mist lifted from the paddocks, the horses and their foals emerged from its folds like mythic creatures. The fine stands of trees grabbed the morning sun and spread themselves out in their lush greenery, and all looked well with the world.
Rob took me down to the Figile River by the gate, a meandering tributary of the Barrow that surrounds the farm on three sides with 1,200m of river frontage.
"When trainer Michael O'Callaghan had the place," Rob tells me, "he would stand the two-year-olds in the river in the morning to cool their tendons."
The farm has a proud history in the equine business and on a tour of the facilities one can see why.
Laid out over two yards, the first is bounded on one side by a staff cottage, and on the other three sides by 22 loose boxes under a slate cantilever roof.
The boxes include a foaling box and a 'sitting up room' complete with bed and toilet for those on watch. The outer yard has a substantial seven-column A-roofed haybarn that is fully sheeted down.
The main feature is a large American barn in generous proportions containing 20 boxes all with automatic water and swivel pots.
Other equine facilities include a lunging ring, a six-horse walker, a circular sand gallop and a huge sand arena in what was once the walled garden. Livestock farming facilities include two silage pits, a cattle yard, holding pens and a cattle crush.
The house is an 18th-century construction over a basement and comes complete with a turret.
In very good condition, the place has a PVC sun porch to the front leading to two elegant reception rooms and a lovely formal dining room.
To the rear is an office and a double glazed sunroom while access from the backyard is through the ground floor of the turret. A back kitchen connects the house to the two-bed staff flat.
Upstairs in the main house are five bedrooms, two of which have joint access to a bathroom, while the third and fourth bedrooms have their own ensuite facilities. An attic floor has a room that could be converted to a bedroom and a bathroom.
The house is finished with some fine original oak panelling, original oak-panelled doors and oak-panelled window shutters.
The land is powerful ground and with the current weather, it is as solid as bell metal. The current management has spent a lot of effort and energy bringing the land to optimum condition with weed control and fertilising along with tidying the fences. Laid out in 11 divisions, it is all fenced with post and rail, and has great trees giving the best of shelter.
It is serviced by an internal roadway system and water is supplied to all the paddocks.
"This is a great place," says Rob. "From the moment we put the horses out here, they relaxed and were perfectly at home."
The property will be brought to auction by Coonan auctioneers, Maynooth, on Thursday, July 19 at 3pm.
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