Posted in : Uncategorised on by : Brendan Walsh Comments: 8
I have been making iron gates,for a living,for years and I feel the need to write a piece on my experience and extended knowledge on the subject generally.
I will not bore the reader as to the method of making a pair of gates, except to give a brief as to the uniqueness of the piece made by the blacksmith of the past and me,(the blacksmith).
Gates and entrances generally, has always held a interest to me. Growing up in Ireland you would pass many big impressive entrances. Highly ornamented iron gates and side railings stood majestically to be admired and also to protect the ‘big house’.
Many of the gates were of high design and craftsmanship.
Alas, many factors contributed to the decline of many unique works of art. Some survived but these are comparatively rare. The reasons for the decline of the wrought iron in Ireland are many. One reason for this is that most of the ornate gates were owned by the English aristocrats. As the war progressed and over a long period of time many owners exited to England and the estates were rundown and neglected.
The next most dramatic event to affect the Ornate gates was when the British left the country and the land and the estates was in the care of the new government. The Estates and the land was eventually divided among farmers, small land holders whom had no love for most part, any thing connected with the ab-stance landowner.
To add the final death knell to the rich cultural heritage, in the forty’s and fifty’s the arrival of the tractor and motorcar and the horse made the blacksmith redundant. This corresponded with the decline of the need of the blacksmith.
However there is a ‘silver lining’. With the help of successive governments and ambitious and talented people blacksmithing is making a comeback. This is not only happening in Ireland, the u.k and Europe is experiencing a rise in the interest of the work of the blacksmith.
Today the trained smiths are seen as an artist and not a craftsman as in the past.The British association is called B.A.B.a. which stands for ‘British,Artist Blacksmith Associations. This renewal and re assessed of the blacksmith has given the smiths an added pride and value in his art.
Perhaps today when people are considering having a new pair of gates made they are aware that real choices exist and to have a pair of gates forge by a blacksmith is not only a thing of beauty, but also a very real investment in the future.
From a a social or historical/ Anthropologically perspective the area or entrance from the public space into the private is a powerful and poignant place.Examining the subject from a material cultural perspective shows the presentation of an entrance in a more social and clear language. Entrances are many different types,they can be large and forbidding that can be small and inconsequential.Each two show the both top and bottom of the social ladder.The side wings on each side of the gates can be welcome (concave) open arms and caution and respect (convex) .To be continue…