14 – The forge

Since 1858, four generations of the Dineen family have worked there. The horse was the source of all power back then, even today we still use the term horse power. Horses had to have their hooves paired and shod with iron shoes. The last man to shoe a horse was Timmy Dineen in the late 1960’s. I knew him. I can still hear the hammer hopping on his anvil, with the rhythm of a master craftsman. His father was known as Master Tom. To me Timmy was Master Tim. Picture Timmy in his leather apron, the red hot iron shoe, being moulded into size around the pointed side to his anvil, the plunge of hot iron into his water tank nearby, the steam rising as it hissed, and all the while the horse stood there in the forge watching, just like me, a boy staring at the wonder of it all. How the horse would present his leg up on the leather apron, while Timmy kept up a talking relationship with the horse as he filed and fitted the shoe and drove the nails into the hoof, gave a quick twist with his pincers to the nails sticking out, a little more filing, job done, no pain whatever to the horse. The same procedure for all four legs. As a boy watching, with mouth open, I thought back then, as I do now, of that amazing understanding between horse and man. In my view, not every blacksmith had that unique rapport with the horse, but Timmy Dineen had it. Shoeing horses was only part of his craft. Putting a band of iron on the wheel of a butt or horse cart, or a fancy trap pulled by a pony was well within his reach. Horse shoes can be seen on the right hand side of the front door and at the back to this day, and Tom his son has a workshop at the back of the forge.