Thursday, 11 September 2014

Days of the forges

My first memory is of the forge; I don’t know what age. It’s a memory filled with sounds and smells, the sounds of men’s voices and the clatter of hooves coming down the street, another horse on its way, people warning me to stay out of the way and to watch the hind legs, of course. It was like a painting all crowded with people.

I remember as a child I turned the light on for my father -- I had to use a stick to reach the switch, I was so small. I must have been holding this iron for my father in the yard, and he struck before I removed my hand from the place, and he hit my thumb with the sledgehammer, and all that was troubling me was that I might curse – I remember the trouble he went to stop me cursing at the time.

You can imagine there were a lot of carts at the time, and those wheels had metal bands, so blacksmiths were kept in business until a few decades ago.

Every anvil must have its own musical tone when struck, and you could tell at a distance whose it was. I remember this anvil, and it was different than any before or since.

--  Remembrances of a blacksmithing apprentice on Radio Telefis Eireann, June 2013.


P.M.Lawrence said...

I once came across a travel writer's account of an Irish smithy that was still in the family of a smith who had deserted from Mountjoy's army in Elizabethan times - and it still had the anvil he took with him, smaller and flatter than we are accustomed to.

Brian Kaller said...


That's fantastic; no reason it couldn't have lasted that long.

When I did a blacksmithing course, our forge was much smaller than the ones shown in pictures; they just don't have to be that large. I also realised that the dramatic swinging of large hammers in movies was for dramatic effect, looking much more manly than frantic tapping. :-)