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Pollagh Trail

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The Pollaghs

The Pollaghs (pronounced locally as Polloughs or Pollox) is an area of low-lying meadowland consisting of over 200 acres. The name comes from the Irish 'pollacha' meaning full of holes. The land was part of the estates of the local landed families, Waller, Henry and Twiss, the greater part belonging to the latter. On the demise of these families, the land was divided by the Irish Land Commission in the early 1900's and granted to local farmers who had been existing tenants. There are presently 45 farmers who have plots ranging from 1 to 10 acres in the Pollagh.
The Vikings (Danes) are believed to have inhabited the Pollagh in the 9th & 10th centuries, probably arriving here having navigated up the Shannon in their longships. Evidence of their settlement was uncovered during the course of the Shannon Scheme in the mid 1920's.
Access to the Pollagh was originally via a roadway from the village alongside the present Matt The Threshers premises. The construction of the railway line and the branch line to Killaloe in the mid 1800's led to the relocation of the entrance to the current spot on the O'Briensbridge road.
The Pollagh was at the centre of controversy in 1881 when the boycott system, first used against Capt Boycott of Lough Mask House, Mayo, was implemented by the Tenants Rights League against local landlord, Hastings Twiss. Farmers and workers refused to assist in harvesting the hay in the Pollagh. Twiss hired in a workforce, known as 'Emergency Men' to do the work. 70 labourers with 3 gentlemen in charge arrived by train in Birdhill on August 8th. To avoid the possibility of a confrontation, a large contingent of police and military patrolled the area day and night during the 4 weeks it took to get the work done.
The Pollagh is still a useful source of meadowing, although hay saving can be difficult in unfavourable weather as the land is prone to flooding. Hay is made by mowing the grass which has been allowed to grow to a height of up to 2 feet, leaving it to dry, before gathering it to be used as a valuable source of winter fodder for cattle. Hay saving is usually carried out in June-July, although it is often later in the Pollagh, depending on the prevailing weather. In many cases, hay has been replaced by silage which is made from green grass cut, compacted and stored in airtight conditions, without first being dried, and used as animal feed in the winter.
In more recent years, much of the Pollagh land has been planted with fast-growing conifers.

The terrain of the Pollaghs provides a wonderful habitat for numerous species of Flora & Fauna and offers a haven of retreat to us from the hustle and bustle of life.

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