Mystery buyer snaps up Ballymacoll Stud for €8.15 million
The historic property was sold at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin
An era came to an end in the salubrious surroundings of Dublin’s famed Shelbourne Hotel on Tuesday as the famed Ballymacoll Stud was sold for €8.15 million.
However, the identity of the buyer is shrouded in secrecy. The new owner of the renowned farm near Dunboyne in County Meath is reputed to be a member of one of Ireland’s wealthiest and most successful business families.
Long connected with the area and Ireland’s racing and bloodstock industry, the purported new owner is believed to be interested in carrying on the rich heritage and illustrious pedigrees of Ballymacoll Stud. Other members of their family are also thought to be increasing their presence in Irish racing.
Peter Walsh, managing partner of Orpen Franks legal firm in Dublin, was busy taking instructions from his client during the entire process as bids on Lot 3, all 294 acres of the farm as well as the houses, stables and other buildings, slowly crept up in €25,000 increments.
It was Walsh who secured the birthplace of Arkle on behalf of his client when Willie Coonan brought his golden hammer down at €8.15m.
“I have bought the property on behalf of a client but I cannot disclose anything about them or their nationality,” said Walsh, who specialises in corporate property for the firm based in the well-heeled city address of Dublin 4.
For Peter Reynolds, who has nurtured Ballymacoll’s families for 45 years, it was the most bittersweet of days but he wished the new owners well in their endeavours.
“I am very sorry to see the place go but I hope the new owners have as much luck as we did on the farm,” he reflected after a dramatic auction.
Potential buyers, friends and neighbours of the Reynolds family crowded into the St Stephen’s Suite and a church-like atmosphere fell on the golden wallpapered room whose bay windows, opened to let the summer breeze into the room as the air conditioning failed, framed leafy views of the square opposite.
Coonan failed to elicit any bids on Lot 1, which was the main farm on 269 acres and swiftly moved on to Lot 2 – the isolation unit, three bedroom bungalow and 25 acres. A solitary bid of €500,000 was advanced for this and the auctioneer advised the potential purchaser, hidden in a corner of the room beneath an oil painting of the Meeting Of The Waters in County Wicklow that inspired Thomas Moore to compose his famous ode, to hold that bid.
He then moved on to Lot 3 and bidding opened at €4.5m. The protagonists Walsh and Richard Brophy of Goffs Town and Country were both in the front row of the seating, the chairs resplendent in sky blue with the emblem of the hotel embroidered in gold on each one echoing the Weinstock silks carried to victory by such luminaries as Troy, Sun Princess, Pilsudski, Golan and Islington.
The tension was ratcheted up several notches when auctioneer Willie Coonan paused proceedings after the bidding reached €7m for the entire property and led the Reynolds family, Rupert of joint-selling agents Knight Frank and representatives of Hayes and Company solicitors out of the room for an urgent conferring.
Those gathered in the sumptuous first-floor room speculated as to the discussions going on just feet away on the other side of the wall. Among those who were part of the hushed discussions were Rory Mahon of Juddmonte Ireland, Airlie Stud’s Anthony Rogers and Seamus Burns formerly of Lodge Park Stud.
Eventually Coonan led the delegation - which included Peter Reynolds, supported by his wife Wendy and three children - back into the suite. The auctioneer declared that both Lot 1 and 2 had been withdrawn from sale and Lot 3, which comprised the entire property, was now on the market.
As the bidding agonisingly crept upwards, both men conferring with unknown persons on their mobile phones, it looked as if Walsh would prevail when the figure reached €7.65m. Coonan was about to bring the hammer down when a sudden intervention from a figure standing on the threshold of the room brought a new bidder into proceedings and the room was electrified by this late twist and an offer of €7.7m.
With all three men doing the bidding of those on the other end of the line, necks were craned and strained as those present tried to discover the identity of the bidders and tried to guess who they were representing.
When Coonan brought the hammer down, the crowd applauded and era of unparalleled success in the pale blue silks of the late Lord Weinstock and Ballymacoll Stud, under the wise and considerate stewardship of Peter Reynolds was brought to a close.