Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

The Swiss businessman who turned a dairy farm into a world class stud

Walter Haefner bought Moyglare in 1962 when it was a rundown 300-acre dairy farm
Walter Haefner bought Moyglare in 1962 when it was a rundown 300-acre dairy farm

Swiss businessman Walter Haefner had an incredible passion for horses and this led him to Co Kildare in 1962.

Sales and breeding advisor Fiona Craig describes the early days. "Mr Haefner initially came to Ireland to buy a show jumper but instead ended up buying 300 acres in the shape of a run-down dairy farm outside Maynooth. This came about after a chance meeting in a Dublin hotel with a fellow Swiss expatriate Major Eric Miville."

In the years that followed, Miville proved hugely influential in the breeding programme which evolved at Moyglare, and one which has since provided the stud with dozens of major wins worldwide.


Miville passed away in 1967, and in 1971 local veterinary surgeon Stan Cosgrove took over as farm manager, a position held with great pride for 50 years until his retirement in 2013 at the age of 85.

The farm is now managed by former Ashford Stud-based Malachy Ryan.

"At the beginning the aims for Moyglare were rather different and the stud was commercially orientated in the early years," Fiona remembers. "Mr Haefner always endeavored to buy the best broodmares and send them to the best sires, selling all the produce at public auction, but that all changed in 1980 when he retained stock for racing."

As the Moyglare empire continues to flourish Walter Haefner would be most proud of his daughter for her dedication to the Irish bloodstock industry, particularly since his passing in June 2012 at the age of 101. "She loves her horses just as much as her father did. While he was a great supporter through his association with The Turf Club, RACE and the Equine Centre, she continues to support Irish racing through sponsorship, especially for this weekend's Moyglare Stud Stakes which is now in its 43rd year."

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