Huge cheer at close of exciting auction

One of a few women to wield a g avel in East Cork has completed one of the fastest and most furious bidding matches in the region.
Huge cheer at close of exciting auction

Adrianna Hegarty of Hegarty Properties saw intense competition for a farm which she was selling jointly with Cyril Wall of Burke Wall, in the disposal of the late John McCarthy’s estate on behalf of executors.

The farm, which has a total of 140 acres on offer, was divided into two holdings in the townlands of Ballycroneen Upper and Churchtown South in Cloyne.

Huge interest was expected, but the swiftness of proceedings on the day was breakneck, with the first property, the 87-acre holding at Ballycroneen, sold within five minutes for €960,000 — and that’s including the drama of late bids and the hammer coming down almost twice, says Hegarty.

Bidding for the residential sale, which included access to a private beach, opened at €500,000 and the property went on the market immediately, at which stage the bidding climbed in tens of thousands, in front of a packed room.

At that stage, it was mostly between a Tipperary man and two local bidders, one of whom was from Youghal.

There was a last minute, ‘dark horse’ bidder who jumped in with a bid of € 850 , 000 and continued against the local man until the €950,000 mark — at which stage he withdrew.

It was then purchased by local drystock and tillage farmer Jack Crowley for €960,000, and a huge cheer went up in the room.

“It will be another 100 years before there’s an auction like that again,” one of the onlookers said to Hegarty.

Entitlements of over €8,000 went with the property, along with a very picturesque old farmhouse and stone outbuildings with private access to Ballybrannigan Beach. On the basis of the acreage, the sale went for just over €11,000 per acre.

The Crowley family weren’t yet finished. As the contracts were signed on one farm, the auction got underway for the 53 - acre Ballywilliam, Churchtown South farm, and Jack Crowley’s brother Ollie was to the fore this time.

Hegarty opened at €300,000 and put the property immediately on the market at that, and four bidders took up the challenge.

It was bid to €450,000, at which stage the hammer was up and Hegarty was selling. Half way down, the hammer was stopped and there was a new bidder of €455,000 — then Ollie and Helen Crowley went to €460,000 and the farm was finally sold, the equivalent of €8,679 per acre.

Both properties are only a mile away from each other. The Crowley brothers are well-known local farmers in tillage and drystock; their father was also a cattle dealer.

The Ballycroneen farm is described as a fine example of east Cork tillage ground, and comes with grazing ground. The Ballywilliam farm is also a mixed holding, with arable land, and has some waste along a coastal boundary.

The auction result confounded expected notions of an overseas buyer for the properties (probably because of the hard-to-get residential status); instead the driving force at auction were local farmers. There were five to six interested parties at the auction, Adrianna Hegarty says, and most of the bidders would have been cash buyer, she adds.

Neighbouring owners are a mix of generational farmers and local and international celebrities, including Angela Lansbury, whose home is close to the Ballywilliam farm. The €1.4m sale is one of the highest-grossing farm auctions in the south this year.

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