Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 13)
There are no more Sparks Flying at The Old Forge in Grange!
In Ireland, the blacksmith traditionally played an important role in the community. He not only shod horses, ponies and donkeys as a farrier but also repaired agricultural implements, shod wheels and often made gates and railings. He contributed to domestic life by making the crane that held the boiling pot over the open fire, the pot hook that connected the pot to the crane, the tongs that attended to the fire and, in the event of an accident, he could be called on to put a leg on the pot. It used to be that every town and village in Ireland had at least one forge and a blacksmith. The blacksmith provided a valuable service for those who had horses or for people who required his skills in metalwork.
And so it was in Grange for many decades - the forge was located in Lower Grange, on the road to Ballingoola, and it was not far from The Hamlet Bar. Sadly, this former institution is now a locked up building, merely a reminder of times and a way of living well gone. Silence has replaced the noises and odours that characterised the former village forge.
The Grange Forge was established by the Croker family in 1861, and it was subsequently acquired by the Madden family. Successive generations of Maddens operated the forge until its bellows drew a final breath in 1999 when blacksmith Jim Madden retired.
Brendan Madden of Upper Grange, nephew of Jim Madden, charted the history of the Grange Forge in his article, The Madden Forge, in the Grange Parish Book.
The following is an extract from Brendan's article:
"The Madden Forge building remains in existence but, alas, it is now locked up. If one is old enough to remember the days when the forge was open for business, perhaps it is possible to recall the buzz of activity when passing by or visiting - the clank of iron against iron from the anvil, the unique smell and smoke from hot metal against horse hoof, the fizzing sound from hot iron being immersed in water, the power of the bellows, the intensity of the fire and its sparks, the multi-colouring of the irons in the fire, the shuffling of horses outside as they waited patiently to be shod and, of course, the gathering of men, in particular, awaiting a variety of essential forge services."
Writing about the Madden Forge in the edition of The Vale Star, published on 23 September 1999, Nora Hourigan observed:
“The Forge is a great loss to the people of Grange and the surrounding areas. Even the housewife or gardener cannot get a handle fitted to a brush, spade, fork or shovel. It is the end of an era. We all miss Jim, who was a master craftsman. Best wishes Jim from all your friends in Grange.”
Next week (week 14), we will suggest another article for reading.
Kind Regards to all.
Brendan Madden, author of the book article, is not a blacksmith, but he knows how to hook a trout in the best Madden tradition.