One of the most important craftsmen in the countryside years ago was the Blacksmith. Not only did he she horses but also provided most of the tools and agricultural implements for neighbouring farmers. Almost everything made from iron was fashioned by his skilled hands- from door latches, tongs and griddles used in the home, to scythes, harrows and ploughs for work in the fields.
…The forge was a popular meeting place, since it gave people the opportunity to gossip and discuss the event of the day, while they were waiting for their work to be done.
The blacksmith’s craft was usually handed down from father to son and the forge often remaining in the same family for generations. Sometimes an overworked smith would employ an apprentice who proactised making horse shoes and bending hot metal until such times as he could be relied upon to tackle the more skilled jobs on his own.
“I mind taking the mare to the forge when I was about ten years old. I felt great. I hoped up on the mare’s back and rode here up to the forge. My father was going with the horse ‘n cart for a load of turf to the Tulnafoile bog, which was beyond the forge. It was just there at the foot of what’s McKenna’s field now, beside McGee’s. I rode the mare behind the cart.
It would take an hour or an hour an’ a half, to make a set of shoes and put them on. But yous could spend most of the day about the forge depending on how many horses there were! When I was there I used to blow the bellows for McNelis in the Glen and the other to Terry O’Hagan. I loved riding the mare home with her set of new shoes after my father with his full load of turf. Some days you’d be sent with the sock and cuiter of the plough in a bag.
The McNelis’s were all great handy men. They were expert spade makers. Their spades were famous all through the country. They shafted them ‘n all. There wasn’t wan hate that you’d want made or would need to be mended, but Michael McNelis, Kilnaheery, could do it. At that time they had a big stone trough for water. It was for putting the iron into to cool it or temper it. The forge was a “Social Centre”. I seen McNelis’s the one time. Oh, fro Altlafin, Errigal, Mick McCrystal’s, Kate’s Packie and all the locals as well.
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
My ggrandfather in New Zealand was William John Steen born 1852 in Co Tyrone. His wife Margaret Wallace  was born in Omagh. They were married in Clogher in a Presbyterian church in ? http://www.pass-4sure.me Carentall in 1873. Their parents were James Steen [1830 Roveagh] and Elizabeth, and Hugh Wallace [?1830, Knocknancy] and Elizabeth Steen. William John and Margaret came to New Zealnd in the 1860's. I would like to find other Irish details but it is tricky from here so any help would be great. many thanks.