For four generations the sound of the blacksmith’s hammer on the anvil has rung out from Duggan’s Forge in Broadford. Today, Paddy Duggan, following the family tradition of his uncles Johnny and Morty, his grandfather Connie Fitzpatrick and his great grandfather Johnny Fitzpatrick, carries on a thriving forge business. Recently, as part of the ‘Gathering Festival’ Broadford Community Development Association sought Paddy’s help to organise a traditional day in the forge. A large crowd of young and old gathered to witness the old skills of wheel banding, horseshoe making, iron forging and horse shoeing.

In the forge field, an enthralled crowd watched as Tommy Forde and his son Thomas led their pony around, working the bellows that stoked the fire for the wheel banding demonstration. Paddy was ably assisted by Mickey Keaney, Tadhg Brosnan and Davy Stack whose families had a long association with the trade. A commentary on the demonstration was given by Paul Edmonds for the benefit of the many who were watching this technique for the first time.

In the forge Paddy was joined by his cousin, local master farrier and all Ireland handballer CJ Fitzpatrick who gave a live demonstration on the art of fabricating a horseshoe. CJ continues the trade that his late father Mossie built up. Paddy, himself held the people in suspense as he forged a piece of iron into a decorative scroll – a skill for which he is renowned today throughout West Limerick and North Cork.

Outside the forge, Jack Breen and Maura Cregan waited with their horses for shoeing. Frank Fitzpatrick, an uncle of CJ’s and also a master farrier kept a watchful eye on CJ who was joined by Damien Roche, Meelin, while they demonstrated the techniques of hot shoeing and cold shoeing the horses.

This event proved to be very popular with all, bringing back memories of bygone days for many and providing the younger audience with an insight into what happened in a forge in times past. Paddy continues to forge iron gates today in his forge in Broadford and CJ, Damien and Frank travel throughout counties Cork and Limerick working as master farriers.

Well done to all concerned for organising this special event.