By Dr. P.K. Egan
Alan Pollock, a Scotsman with money from a shipping venture to invest, made an extensive purchase of land, up to 30,000 acres, in counties Galway and Roscommon about the Famine time. This was mainly the bankrupt estate of the
Eyres of Eyrecourt which was put to auction by the Encumbered Estates Court. Pollock's first objective was to clear the tenants off and let it out in large
tenures. He anticipated no difficulty in this but soon found that it would have to resort to
the courts, and that it would be less costly to offer some compensation rather than have prolonged litigation. Faced with the threat of eventual eviction in any
case the tenants took the money and left, heading for the towns or the emigrant ship. But the Ballymanagh tenants remained and tradition has it that his title to
this area was not clear and the alternative threat could not be made. It is also
said that evacuated cabins were demolished and ploughed over within the day.
He took the plough around the property and spent much money on drainage, setting up a brick factory at Kylemore to make soil pipes. He built houses and erected gates and farm buildings. There were nine farmyards on the property.
Rows of cottages were built for his farm labourers at Newtown, Crowsnest and
elsewhere Then he divided the estate into huge farms which he leased to Protestant tenants at 21 year terms. His son-in-law, Gardner, acted as his agent
and farmed 2,000 acres. Some thousands of Catholics had been sent adrift. It
was almost a latter day plantation. Even the old tenants who were suffered to
remain were discriminated against. Many of them were forced to do seasonal work in England and Scotland to make the rent. They were made to pay the
whole of the County cess. For the newcomers Pollock paid half the cess as well
as providing them with houses and every other amenity as in the English system. The old tenants received no consideration from him. He never acknowledged that they had any interest in their holdings, but paid them for their stock or crop to get rid of them. For this he was ostracised by the county landlords but lived it down. His Lismany property was divided by the Land Commission in the nineteen twenties."