Blacksmiths c 1916

There were two blacksmiths in Skerries town at that time, the Mannings and the Cartons.

Both forges were almost identical in size and layout, being about 12 ft. wide by 25 ft. long. The entrance door was at the extreme left hand of the building as faced from the outside. At the other end was the hearth and the bellows. The hearth was about 4 ft. square, flat and raised about two feet off the floor. The anvil was placed in the center of the floor just far enough away from the hearth that the smith had only to turn round to lift articles being worked on directly from the fire to the anvil.

Horses to be shod were brought straight in the door and stood with their heads to the back wall. This gave the light from the door, which was always open, to the smith working, as his back was to the horse’s head when he lifted the horse’s hooves between his knees. A leather apron, partially split up the front, was worn to protect clothes from hot iron and sparks. Two horses, if quiet, could be worked on at one time.

In addition to the horse shoeing, the blacksmiths also repaired plough shares, rebuilt harrows, made pig rings for insertion in pigs noses to stop them from rooting the floors of their stys, fixed all the local water pumps, fixed iron tyres to cartwheels and other metal fabricating work that was needed. They also made razor spears for catching razor fish and even spekes – points for boys’ pegging tops.

Christy Fox [SHS, 1974]