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I Forge Iron

Brief History of Irish Blacksmithing

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Hi Folks
I'm artist in residence in the South Lough Neagh Wetlands Northern Ireland. As Part of my residency I need to put together a wee booklet on the History all the way up to present times of Irish Blacksmithing, I could do with a few links and references can anyone help?


Eamonn Higgins

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You can of course find mention of smithing in the Triads:

Three things that are best in the world:
the hand of a good carpenter,
the hand of a skilled woman,
the hand of a good smith.

Three sounds of increase:
the lowing of a cow in milk;
the din of a smithy;
the swish of a plow.

Three holidays of a landless man:
visiting in the house of a blacksmith,
visiting in the house of a carpenter,
buying without bonds.

Three things that constitute a blacksmith:
Nethin's spit,
the cooking-hearth of the Morrigan,
the Dagda's anvil.

Three things that constitute an artificer:
weaving chains,
a mosaic ball,
an edge upon a blade.

Digging into the Brehon laws should prove interesting

There are several books on Irish Archeology that mention ironworking in them as well; I will try to find some cites in my library

And of course the "dog of Culann" and that story showing the place of the smith in early Ireland.

Edited by ThomasPowers
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I was not able to turn up alot of information on this topic, but here are a few links to some things that might be of interest.

The Blacksmith and His Forge in Ancient Ireland

Blacksmiths of Ireland

The Heroic Blacksmiths of 1798

Peatlands | History and uses of peat | Peat for fuel

Hot Shoes and Heavy Metal
This book explores the life and work of the blacksmith, once a crucially important craftsman in both urban and rural economies. It examines the raw materials, the work, the tools and the techniques of blacksmiths and looks at their place in the economic and social life of local communities. It focuses on the blacksmith in Ireland in the late 19th century.
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum : Learning : Resources : Education Publications : Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland

Craft of Blacksmithing

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This might be worth looking into for your project. Wish I knew more about it-- it is a copy my wife shot of a reprint in an Irish newspaper of a 1798 order by the Brits requiring Irish smiths to register-- and promising death to any smith caught making weapons. We found it in a display case inside a little hall in a village we drove through between Dublin and Westport in 1998. The town is noted for having hanged a priest.


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If the photograph of the newspaper copy of the British notice that I posted should be published somewhere, please credit photo to: Joan Neary. Thanks.
Thomas-- no, I did not see a copy of the license, nor any further details. That time, however, was a period of unrest in Ireland, and much has been written about it. Smithies are hard to find in modern Ireland, at least in my limited experience. I did not come across much interest in old tyme ironwork. Some replication of old gates, but in square tubing. The real ones I found are rotting away where they stand. The one working forge I came across was just being built, at an Irish Heritage Center up in the northwest, Crossmolina, I think-- and the resident smith, whom I did not get to meet, was German!!

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