Dunnes Stores tycoon likely buyer of Ballymacoll Stud for €8.15m

Prestigious Dunboyne property on 300 acres believed to have been bought by neighbouring landowner Frank Dunne.

Ballymacoll Stud: Frank Dunne lives at Hamwood stud farm, which adjoins Ballymacoll on the Dunboyne side

Ballymacoll Stud: Frank Dunne lives at Hamwood stud farm, which adjoins Ballymacoll on the Dunboyne side

 

Ballymacoll Stud, one of Ireland’s best known equine breeding grounds in Dunboyne, Co Meath, has sold at auction for €8.15 million. The 300-acre stud owned by the Weinstock family since 1960 was sold under the hammer at a packed auction room in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, last Tuesday.

The buyer’s identity, however, remained a mystery after the prestigious property was bought in trust for a client by Peter Walsh, managing partner of Orpen Franks solicitors in Dublin.

Once the hammer fell, speculation in the sale room – and beyond – as to who the buyer might be moved into overdrive. The understanding is that the purchaser is neighbouring landowner Frank Dunne, of the Dunnes Stores retail empire.

Dunne holds a third of Ireland’s biggest homegrown retail chain’s shares, and lives at Hamwood stud farm, which adjoins Ballymacoll on the Dunboyne side. It would fit as a long term succession plan for Dunne and, given his bloodstock interest, it’s likely he plans to continue the breeding pedigree already established at Ballymacoll, birthplace of the great Arkle.

There were two underbidders for the land which went on the market at €7 million, one of whom is believed to be billionaire developer Luke Comer. Comer is another Ballymacoll neighbour, with a stud farm based several miles away at Summerhill and who has been on a farmland-buying spree in Ireland since 2013. It’s not often that Comer emerges as underbidder and, given that prior to auction the stud farm was guiding between €6 million and €8 million through Willie Coonan and Knight Frank, the bullish result at the upper end places a very flattering €27,000 per acre value on Ballymacoll’s land. It’s a strong example of what happens when two buyers with bottomless resources set their sights on the same prize. For Ballymacoll and Peter Reynolds it’s winner alright.