Mr. Allan Pollock As A Farm and An Engineer

Extract from The Dublin Builder Nov. 1st 1861


Some of the gigantic steadings erected by this enterprising Scotch agriculturalist on his vast territory in the west of Ireland, have been fully described in previous numbers of this journal, but as our cotemporary, the Agricultural Review in a comprehensive sketch brings to light much additional interesting matter respecting the general farming and engineering operations carried on under same auspices, we give the following therefore: -
“We take Mr. Pollok’s farming then his engineering,” and his doings as landlord, just as we find them – the same as we might do with any other unfinished operations. No one of any powers of observation can survey Me. Pollok’s works without being interested, amazed, and interested, Difficulties which would have paralysed the energies of almost any other man have been smoothed down obstacles which would have appalled most men he has walked over with easy step, and now harmony reign where confusion seemed but lately to be safe in perpetual dominions. 

We can conceive of no better example of this kind of overpowering confusion than that presented by a large estate just vacated by the numerous tenantry. Hundreds of houses in all stages of ruin; garden walls, field fences, marsh and dykes, stock yards choked with docks and nettles, swamps un-drained, or worse, badly drained, skills of land exhausted of whatever fertility they ever possessed in the hands of hopeless tenants-at-will, roads, worse to be dealt with than no roads all; cairns of stones, and gravel pits; bogs unevenly cut and fields laid out in defiance of rule and measure. Farms – ay, townlands and even parishes, in this state presented no very inviting job for the engineer who was to lay all out in a few symmetrical fields, every inch yielding the highest rate of produce. The engineering has been done and now the plough in turning over one furrow may traverse several townlands in which no mark of home or hearth of man is to be seen any more than if the furrow were that of a ship on its way on the ocean. Preparatory to the laying out of the land for such an exhibition, much had to be done besides squaring fields and consolidating farms. The land had to be drained and this on so large a scale that it became a matter of expedition and economy to set up large tile factories on the estate. Thousands of acres have been thus drained and the climate itself improved by the superabundant moisture of the soil being allowed to escape by underground channels to the sea, instead of rising in vapour from the surface. 

The eye that saw the necessity for tile-factories and brick- yards saw also that other extensive manufactories must be established and thus some of the more immediate relations of agriculture to commerce and manufacturing industry are exemplified, without leaving the one estate in the westmost county in Connaught; extensive forges, carpenters, stone walls, gas works, and a number of other and kindred establishments which were usually to be found only in considerable towns; soon sprang into being there, and, at an early period in the progress of remodelling the estate, the monthly wages bill amounted to £1,000. Thus the carts, ploughs, harrows gates, and all other implements and machines required in carrying out the most advanced system of farming are made and kept in repair on the estate, Twelve farms have now been provided with building, some of these farms being on a scale requiring byre accommodation for 700 head of cattle, besides stabling for the complement of horses. These buildings, as might be expected from the manner in which everything in gone about, are finished in the most commodious and convenient manner, not only supplied in every part by pipes with water from cisterns, but lit with gas. 

The farm of Ganaveen is 4,000 acres in extent and the steading thereon is unequalled by anything in the country. The inside of the cowshed measures 310 by 168 feet and is set off in parallel sections with the animals facing each other in the opposite rows. The feeding is supplied from the alleys in front and the manure removed, and bedding supplied by means of a passage three feet wide, behind the stands. The cows are chained to upright posts, and the food placed in vitrified fireclay troughs. The polled cattle and plough bullocks are fed in loose boxes, and the younger description of stock kept in an open shed, the roof of which is supported by upright metal pillars against the inside of the court-yard wall. The stables occupy a separate department of the covered structure, and stalls, loose boxes, harness-rooms for thirty six horses are provided. This is furnished with a registered corn feeding meter, from which a definite quantity of grain can be taken for each, and the daily consumption is easily ascertained by means of hand or indicator easily checked. The barn is situated in the centre of the building, with the machinery on the left. The straw and chaff rooms are on the ground floor from which straw for bedding, and chaff for mixing with other feeding materials, can be readily removed as required. The mill wheel, turned by water, not only threshes the grain, shakes the straw, lifts the corn by means of elevator to the granary overhead, where proper machinery is at work for winnowing, packing and weighing it, till ready for delivery to the mill, but, the power is also made available for crushing bones, beans, and oilcake, cutting hay, straw, and chaff, slicing mangels, turnips, and potatoes, cleaning grass and other agricultural seeds, and many other uses which largely economises manual labour. 

A shed, 14 feet in width, along the outer-wall is apportioned for implements, cart-shed, tool-house, artificial manure depot, etc. and between this and the main building is a vacant space of 27 feet in breadth for the ordinary purposes of traffic, The manure pit is situated in the centre of an open yard, to the rear of the cow-shed, and a large tank, lined with cement, is attached for the reception of the urine, the contents of which are incorporated with the dung, previous to application or pumped upon a huge heap of bog mould intended for top dressing, or more frequently as manure for cabbages, The haggard is situated on a raised surface, on a level with the threshing department of the barn, and contains the produce of 250 acres of corn, in addition to several hundred tons of hay. Both these are made up in ricks 70 yards in length by 4 in breadth, and supported by means of metal stands, connected by means of malleable iron bars. The wheat, oats, and barley are built in consecutive links, suited to the dimensions of the barn. 

If there be among our readers any having the capital, the enterprise, and the skill requisite to meet the landlord’s views, they may be looking forward to a location on the Lismany estates.

Our contemporary omits – we are sure through inadvertence – that in the engineering operations, Mr. Pollok was ably assisted by Mr. William Maxwell, Agricultural Engineer, Ballinasloe.