I have family living in Douglas in Cork City and so I was sure there was some mistake when Fermoy auctioneer Michael Barry sent me notice of an auction for a 101ac residential farm with an address at Douglas.
I drove to the southern capital to check the place out for myself and there was no mistake, this fine 101ac tillage and grass farm is located within the new Cork City Development Boundary on an elevated site overlooking the south eastern suburbs.
The guide price of €30,000/ac is also no mistake.
My drive to the rebel city took me past the Galtees, around Mitchelstown and Fermoy. I picked a good day, the finest of the year so far. The fields were bathed in the first real touch of warm sunshine in six months as the dairy herds of south Limerick and north Cork, the very picture of contentment, grazed happily with the sun on their backs.
Michael Barry was waiting in the car park of the Rochestown Park Hotel. "Hop in with me, it's only a few minutes down the road," he said. Sure enough within a few minutes we left the urban outskirts behind and we were driving along the L6477 where 350m of road frontage defines one boundary of the farm. The other side is marked by an even longer section of frontage on to the very busy Carrigaline/Ringaskiddy road.
"The couple that owned this place were the best of farmers," Michael Barry explained, "as a farm it was ahead of its time in the 1960s and 70s. They had no children and after the husband died the land was let. The owner was offered substantial monies for it during the Celtic Tiger years, including substantial option money, but she refused to sell," he said. The place is the subject of an executor auction.
A short avenue took us up to a fine solid, two-storey farmhouse at the centre of the elevated farm surrounded by the best of grass and tillage land. The house is a four-bedroomed dwelling in perfectly habitable condition with accommodation that includes a dining room/sitting room, a functional but dated kitchen, a utility, a cloak room and a parlour. The four bedrooms and a bathroom are located on the first floor.
To the rear of the house is a courtyard with a range of storage buildings that have a variety of uses while some neat garden areas and shrubberies are laid out around the side and to the front.
The condition of the house is somewhat immaterial, according to Michael Barry. "Its value lies in the very fact that it is here. Planning permission for a one-off house is impossible to get in this area so the fact that this dwelling stands here makes it very valuable. It is worth well over a million on its site," he said. "While we considered selling the place in lots it was agreed to sell it only in its entirety."
The farmyard is quite extensive but dated with a collection of three adjoining, four-column, round-roof sheds with lean-tos set in a large yard that includes a standalone lean-to shed, a walled silage pit and comprehensive cattle handling facilities.
The land is powerful ground with about 60ac under tillage in one self-draining field that bounds the Carrigaline road while 40ac is in grass and divided into five fields. These are in great heart and divided by natural hedgerow. The farm is home to some fine stands of trees, is serviced by mains water and also served by the makings of a very decent central roadway.
The fields bounding the L6477 have up to three entry points while an entrance from the same road gives access to the tillage ground. There is no access to the Carrigaline Road, one of the busiest around the city. However, this route is about to be superseded by a new bypass taking traffic away from the current busy road and further away from the farm.
I suggest to Mr Barry that there will be a range of customers for this farm from developers to hedge fund managers to pension fund administrators. However, he believes the strong dairy farmers in the area, some of whom benefited from substantial Celtic Tiger era land sales, cannot be ruled out.
"It is hard to know who will buy it," he says, "but it will be bought." Indeed it will, and there will certainly be lively competition when the place comes to auction as one lot at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork at 3pm on Thursday, June 14, with a guide price of €30,000/ac.
Connacht Farm Sales
Levally Cottage on 12.8ac is a beautifully renovated cottage on the shores of Levally Lake, Bofeenaun at the heart of Co Mayo. With the majestic Nephin mountain as a backdrop the house and lands are for sale by private treaty with a guide price of €650,000.