At The Forge

This is a child page of Our Monaghan

There were many forges in Monaghan Town and many out in the country as well. Four forges in the town spring to mind. There was one about halfway down Dawson Street.Then there was one up at Belgium Park beside the football field.There were two behind the houses in Old Cross Square.

These forges were very busy places because the blacksmith had to make shoes for horses and then shoe the horse in the forge. The farmers brought their horses to be shoed, and many people in the town had horses to be shoed as well.

This was not the only work that the blacksmiths did. He made gates and repaired anything that was made of iron.

The first thing that a blacksmith needed was a blazing fire.This fire was on a hearth which was raised up to the height of a table. There was a hole in the middle of the hearth and a big chimney over it. Coke, from the Gashouse, was used as fuel because it burned very hot. A bellows was used to fan the fire. This was not a hand bellows but a huge big one built beside the fire. The blacksmith would swing the handle up and down to blow air into the fire to make it red-hot.

There was an anvil close to the fire. This was an iron stand on which he hammered the red-hot iron into shape. There was a trough of water in which he cooled the hot iron. He had a heavy hammer and he pared the horses' hooves before nailing the shoes.

There was a smell of hot iron and burning hoof in the forge. The blacksmith had on his leather apron, his sleeves rolled up, the sweat standing on his brow as he hammered away. Then you heard the roar of the fire as he worked the bellows up and down, the hiss of water as he cooled the iron, the sizzle of hoof as he fitted the shoe, then the clip clop of the horse as he was led out - another satisfied customer.

The children in those times often spent hours in the forge watching the blacksmith at work. If you wanted to see a forge today you would have to go to the Curragh where there are plenty of racehorses. The man that you would see at work there is called a farrier and his sole job is to shoe the horses.

(Extract from Monaghan Images)

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