A large hill farm has come on the market in Co Kilkenny. Most of the 157ac is designated land, currently receiving some €20,000 per year in an environmental scheme.

This is one of the larger blocks of designated land to come on to the market in the east of the country in recent times.

It is currently used for grazing cattle and horses and out wintering cows.

The 157ac at Coolnacrutta is in one block. The large centre portion is the designated and is used as dry, rough grazing.


The farm is at Coolnacrutta, Galmoy in the north of the county, on the border with Laois. It is for sale by private treaty by auctioneer Thomas O’Dwyer who is based in Urlingford. The asking price is €750,000 which is €4,777/ac.

The holding lies in one large block. The location is 9km from Johnstown, 14km from Urlingford, 24km from Kilkenny and 12km from exit 4 on the M8 (Dublin-Cork) motorway.

Auctioneer Tom O’Dwyer says he has had a number of enquiries from dairy farmers looking to reduce stocking rates ahead of expected tighter environmental limits.

The farm is owned by Michael Bowe, the well-known horse breeder and trainer, among whose runners was Limestone Lad. He is downsizing his farming operations.


Designated land is of interest to farmers as it can qualify for EU environmental schemes and as the buying price is lower. The direction of the new CAP (now being finalised) is increased funding for environmental schemes and cuts for Pillar I schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme.

Much of the holding is this type of grazing land. The soil is free draining and doesn’t flood.

The land for sale is in a scheme with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. A new owner would hope to operate a follow-on scheme and receive annual payments on this land into the future.

Of the 157ac for sale, 135ac are designated special areas of consevation (SAC). A number of rare flowers grow on the land and they in turn host a rare butterfly.

Land type and layout

The other 22ac is not designated and, the auctioneers says, about 10ac of this land is good-quality ground that has been used for tillage. About 30ac of the total is under natural woodland – mostly ash and oak – and the rest under grass.

There are good boundaries of hedging and stone wall. Michael Bowe says that the wall is about one mile long. “The men that built it didn’t wear watches. They worked all day at it.” The farm has good water supply from a deep well, bored in recent years, which has an electrical connection and a pump on top.

There is access at both ends, from two different public roads. On the east side the farm has frontage and access on to the Cullohill to Gathabawn road with a few hundred meters of road frontage. On the west side, there is access via a right of way off the R639, the old Dublin to Cork main road.

The land is free draining and, according to Michael Bowe, never floods or gets wet. The higher spots are 400 to 500 feet over sea level and there are good views.