Mort O’Donovan, c 1895-, Blacksmith Kilcrohane, West Cork and the craft of the Blacksmith.
Around the Muintervara Peninsula re still be be seen fine examples of iron work attributive to Murt O’Donovan. In areas of intensive farming gates have been widened to allow for access of large machinery, however around Ahakista, Kilcrohane and Durrus there are still many examples of gates made of band iron sometimes with decoration. He also would have done a lot of cranes and other interior iron work.
The forge was a place of resort especially in bad weather when men would use the opportunity to have horses shod. Sometimes a mini gathering a type of scoraíocht would take place in the smokey interior and those present would be volunteered into helping bang out band iron.
Heavy use of cart wheels meant that the iron rims around the wheels wore out quickly. The making of iron wheel bands would usually take place when ten or twelve would be done at the one time as tis was an expensive process. A full cart of dry black turf would be secured Bits of old iron would be gathered and melted down and poured into a mould. The preferred firing was turf rather then the generally used coal as this was though to give a better cooling.
Before 20 foot strips of iron became commercially available the process for making horse shoes was to use band iron which typically was between 2 and a quarter and a half inches. The iron would be reddened and a wedge used to split it into two bands of around one inch this would then be used to make shoes. Paddy Murt O’Donovan on his later ears would do this by request and the availability of 20 foot lenghts would generally be used.
Bits of iron such as the axles of carts would be re cycles as the back end of gates rear the pillar for areas such as orchards and haggards, ordinary field would usually have a few bushes to plug the gap.
Other bits of iron were used to make cranes over fires and when concrete came in as lintels over doors.
Rivets were generally bought in
Three of his sons became blacksmiths. Paddy had a forge in Durrus at Carrickarnon (The High Road), made by Dan Brien of Kealties of massed concrete which still stands and later the forge attached to his shop property almost opposite the Good Times Cafe. Jack continued in Kilcrohane and Paddy in Kealties.