THE AUCTION of 88 acres at Kiltannon, Croagh was not unlike Mass - the front rows were empty but there was plenty standing at the back.
The man at the altar was GVM’s Tom Crosse with co-celebrants - John O’Connell, GVM and Owen McMahon, solicitor. Around 50 packed into GVM’s Glentworth Street auction rooms for the sale - after all God isn’t making any more land.
It was mainly middle aged men – tanned arms and work swollen hands gave away their profession.
Mr Crosse said: “It is my privilege to offer this very, very fine farm for sale - it really is as fine a farm you would care to walk in Co Limerick.”
Before setting out the conditions of sale, Mr McMahon praised how extensively the farm had been advertised.
“It only goes to prove something I was told some years ago - a businessman who doesn’t advertise is like a man who winks at a good looking girl in the dark, he knows what he is doing but nobody else does,” said Mr McMahon, to smiles all round.
Mr Crosse encouraged prospective bidders to put their best foot forward.
“Not too often does a farm of this quality, size and location come to the market out that side of the county,” said Mr Crosse, who asked for an opening bid of €750,000.
Silence ensued but he got the ball rolling at €600,000 which he described afterwards as a “good opening tee shot”.
It quickly went €625k, €650k and €675k with three bidders taking part. A raised finger, a wink of the eye and a subtle nod all caught Mr Crosse’s attention.
It went €700k, €725k, €750k before switching to bids of €10k. He kept things moving with gentle utterances “wonderful location”, “classy farm” and “you would walk it in your slippers 12 months of the year”.
The three men kept it going and at €850k Mr Crosse broke for a consultation with the vendors. He came back and said he was short of the reserve.
The three were still vying - €860k, then €870k and Mr Crosse asked the room to make it an even €10k an acre. He got it. A cool €890k followed and there was another break.
“Ladies and gentlemen my instructions are quite clear - we are very much on the market to sell. The bid is on the right hand side, will somebody bid me €900k?”. They did and three became two.
A betting man would have had the farm going to the gentleman on the right - a solicitor bidding for a client - getting it. In a split second he raised the stakes every time with nonchalance. The other was more reticent but kept coming like an old cow wandering into the milking parlour - slowly but surely.
There was €910k to €920k to €930k to €940k. You could cut the tension with a hoof paring knife. It was the solicitor’s turn and he went €950k. The man at the back nodded again - €955k.
Suddenly the solicitor slowed down and the phone came out to ring his client. “Is that the striking blow at the back?” asked Mr Crosse.
The solicitor got the OK and he went €960k. “Give me five again, you’ve been a game bidder, don’t leave it after you.”
The auctioneer got €965k from the man in the back left corner. The solicitor dialled the numbers on his mobile, told his client the price and gave a shake of his head. Mr Crosse went once, twice, three times around the room and dropped the gavel with a successful thud.
“Give him a big round of applause. On behalf of the vendors thank you all for attending,” said Mr Crosse. One man, who hadn’t taken part, said to the person beside him, “Come on we’ve work to do”. As does the new owner of 88 acres in Croagh. He better buy himself a nice new pair of slippers to walk his land.