As would be expected from a district so steeped in rural traditions one of the focal points of village life throughout the ages has been the village forge. Unfortunately the images of a hooped fire of fine slack coal being maintained by the pumping of bellows or the smith at bent over the anvil hammering the heated iron have been lost to us but there are those who recall the smokey forge with fondness.
Blacksmithing or farriery dates back to the Bronze Age and lasted so long as horses were the principal source of power for rural work. Prior to the advent of iron horses were shod with crude cloth sandals, which did little to protect the horses' feet.
An iron shoe is made from a length of iron bar varying in both length and thickness according to the size of the horse. Holding the iron bar between tongs the smith would heat the bar in the fire until it was red hot and soft. Moving to the anvil the smith hammered the bar into a shape to fit the horse's hoof. A tool known as a fuller was used to create the groove around the shoes through which the nails were driven. The shoe was then attached to the hoof of the horse.
Mr. Samuel Hughes who worked as a blacksmith with Mr. Sandy McConnell gave the following account.
First you must learn how to bend the horse's leg. You catch the hair at the lowest part, next to the hoof, while bending the knee with the other hand. Step over the horse's leg and turn round in order to have its foot between your legs. Take the cleaning knife and remove the dirt from the hoof. Take the shoe and fit it against the foot to see if it is the correct size. Warm the cast iron in the fire until it is red hot. Dip it in the water to temper it so it will stand the pressure of heat. When cooled off, punch the holes in it. A hollow must be made to hold the head of the nails in place. Cut the shoe the shape of the hoof being careful that the nails will not enter the soft flesh of the foot.
In the centre of the foot there is a hard lump that is the core of the foot. You must be careful and examine it for cuts and bruising; it is important that it is free from sores.
When you are fitting the shoe, smoke will fill the blacksmiths shop and the smell will indicate that the shoe is bedding into the shape of the horse's foot.
The shoe must have two ends turned down to the ground to give it proper grip on slippery surfaces. Nails must be driven soundly into the hard part of the foot. It is important that the shoes weigh the same to balance the horse.
The faithful horse is a faithful friend who, if well looked after and fitted with suitable shoes, can pull a rewarding load for its master."
|F Rooney||Whitecross||Early 1900's|
|P O'Rourke||Whitecross||Early 1900's|
|J McMordie||Redrock & Collone||1925-1981|
|A Brennan||Newtownhamilton||Early 1900's|
|J Brennan||Newtownhamilton||Early 1900's|
|J McConnell||Markethill||Early 1900's|
|C McConnell||Redrock||Early 1900's|
|S McConnell||Mowhan||Early 1900's|
|W Turner||Eleven Lane Ends||1800's|
|J Clarke||Eleven Lane Ends||1880-1943|
|J Brown||Eleven Lane Ends||1940-1966|
|J Lutton||Ballygorman||Early 1900's|
|B Graham||Tyrones Ditches||1940-1960|
|J Mone||Keady||Early 1900's|
|J Rice||Keady||Early 1900's|
|W Archer||Annvale||Early 1900's|
|J Gamble||Aughnagurgan||Early 1900's|
|W Dalzell||Carnagh||Early 1900's|
|J White||Divernagh||Early 1900's|
|Ross||Armagh Grange||Early 1900's|
|A Moore||Loughgall||Early 1900's|
|Laverty Brothers||Moy||Late 1900's|
Information courtesy of the History Department, Markethill High School.