Gortatlea Mart in Co. Kerry is unique in that it’s privately-owned and isn’t located in or on the outskirts of a town. Committed to providing buyers and sellers with a fair platform, the popular country mart has experienced phenomenal growth since it was taken over by Maurice Brosnan in 2015 and is now selling in the region of 50,000 cattle per year.
Located halfway between Castleisland and Tralee in the heart of the Kingdom, Gortatlea Mart is a hive of activity every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when it plays host to three big sales. A runners and weanling sale takes place every Wednesday from 5pm. This is followed on Thursday morning by a calf sale and a general cattle sale on Friday morning. The mart also holds a dairy sale on Saturdays between the months of February and May.
“We’re not like any other mart,” Maurice proudly states.
“We’re independently owned and managed which means we’re able to offer farmers the personal touch. We’re also passionate about what we do. There is a nice friendly atmosphere too and our location is great because we’re not stuck in the middle of a town where there’s lots of traffic. With both Castleisland and Tralee now bypassed, the mart is easy to access and we have any amount of parking space.”
Gortatlea Mart has always provided a top-class livestock auctioneering service, but Maurice and his team have taken this to another level in recent times. Through his work as a factory agent for Kepak, Dawn Meats and Dunbia, Maurice had built up a huge network of contacts in the cattle business before taking over the family mart from his uncle Sean. He brought Offaly native Margaret Lynch on board as office manager and Gortlatlea Mart has since seen a huge progression in sales and has upgraded and expanded its facilities.
“I met Margaret when we worked together for Dunbia,” he explains.
“I asked her if she would be interested in working on a farming event at the mart, which later transpired into working full-time as the office manager. Margaret’s expertise and experience in financial management and automated computer systems has played a big part in our growth. She introduced a new computer system which has made life a lot easier for everyone.”
Margaret has also organised full health checks on mart days, which has proven to be very successful, along with banking and pension representatives to advise farmers on financial support and pension schemes.
The Mid-Kerry mart is now one of the most modern, safest and cleanest in Ireland. It uses state-of-the-art Auction Management Software, which provides all the information buyers and sellers need to know from the weight of the animal to its movement, test dates and whether it’s from a quality assured farm. The mart can accommodate 1,200 cattle at any one time and boasts other facilities such as a sales ring, canteen and a new yard. With stock numbers continuing to grow, plans are in the pipeline to construct a second sales ring.
Maurice is assisted in the day-to-day running of the mart by Gobnait Lynch, Annette Kerin and Caitriona Walsh in the office. The mart also employs up to 30 people on a part-time basis, including yard men, ring men, canteen staff and office personnel. James McCarney, who hails from Co. Monaghan, is the mart’s regular auctioneer. “I’m very fortunate to have a good team around me. James is a top-class auctioneer who is known all over the country.”
With so many dairy and suckler farmers in the region, the Mart plays host to a high-quality range of suck calves from all breeds, while some of the finest suckler weanlings can also be sought there. There is a huge selection of store cattle and cows for further feeding, while finished stock are also a common sight. The cattle in the region are renowned for their quality and ability to thrive after purchase, hence the reason why Gortatlea attracts buyers from all over of the country.
“Our reputation for selling clean cattle is second to none. Farmers come from Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford to sell their cattle here, while some of the buyers come from much further afield. We have excellent numbers of all types of stock – weanlings, heifers, bullocks, bulls, sucklers and cows. Friday is our busiest day when we hold our general sale, while the weanling sale on a Wednesday evening also attracts a good crowd as it suits the part-time farmers who’d be working during the day.
“We receive tremendous support from the farming community and are always striving for improvement and giving them exactly what they want. It all boils down to fair play and ensuring everyone – both buyers and sellers – are getting value-for-money. There has to be a happy medium.”
At one of its general sales in May, weanling bulls fetched €3.33/kg; weanling heifers peaked at €2.93/kg; bullocks topped out at €2.75/kg; heifers realised €2.54/kg and the top cull sold at €2.42/kg.
Opening hours are from 9am to 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9am to 9pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Telephone: 066 713 7244
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 5, August 2018