Farm Ireland

Thursday 25 April 2019

Traditional attachment to the land is ‘loosening’

Many farmers are asking themselves 'why am I doing this?'
Many farmers are asking themselves 'why am I doing this?'
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

The traditional Irish attachment to the land is loosening as more and more non-farming landowners appear willing to dispose of the family plot.

Dillon Murtagh of Murtagh auctioneers in Mullingar says that an increasing number of smaller holdings in the commuter belt around Dublin are finding their way on to the land market.

“Many people from this general area are working and commuting to Dublin and are not willing to put the time and energy into maintaining a small farm, so those that are not leasing are selling,” he said.

Eoin Dillon, an auctioneer based in north Tipperary, says that while a majority of farmers in that part of the country want to hold on to the land, many are “burnt out, especially after the long winter”.

He added: “They are asking themselves, ‘why am I doing this?’ Some will struggle on, some will lease the land, but few active farmers will sell.”


The current leasing arrangements are contributing to a change in attitude to land ownership. Some auctioneers are predicting that if this generation is willing to lease, the next generation will not go back farming and may be more willing to sell.

Tom Crosse of GVM in Limerick said that in some cases, as farmers are retiring, they are not being replaced by family members, but adds that the current leasing arrangements give landowners more options.

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“I would nevertheless agree that the loyalty factor is beginning to wear thin,” he said.

Alison De Vere Hunt in south Tipperary says the size of holdings is increasing all the time. “Farms are getting bigger and those staying in farming are seeking bigger holdings. Most certainly, family members not farming actively want to sell,” she said.

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