About the Project
The vernacular forged wrought iron field gate is a very valuable, but often neglected, aspect of the cultural heritage of our rural landscape in county Galway. These field gates were for the most part forged in the local blacksmith’s forge.
They are practical and functional while at the same time are an artistic expression of the blacksmith who made them. During the twentieth century cast-iron, tubular steel and other mass produced gates became more common while at the same time the forged wrought iron gates went into decline as did the blacksmiths forge. In addition to this changing farming practices has led to many of these gates being abandoned in hedges and fields throughout the county, as the older forged wrought iron field gates became too small to accommodate new big machines entering fields. However, to the careful observer there are still many beautifully crafted wrought iron field gate to be found around the county.
According to ICMOS “The built vernacular heritage is important; it is the fundamental expression of the culture of a community, of its relationship with its territory and, at the same time, the expression of the world's cultural diversity.”
Therefore, the aim of this project is to identify, record, raise awareness and knowledge of the wealth of wrought iron field gates that are to be found in the county of Galway. It will also seek to identify the names of the local blacksmiths and their forges.
Galway 2021 Forged Gates Project
In this first phase of the project Galway County Council’s Heritage Office worked with Skehana Heritage Group and Holy Rosary College Mountbellew. Over 200 hundred locally forged gates have been recorded and in addition to this photographs of the remaining local forges were taken and interviews, podcasts and recordings were undertaken with members of the local community including farmers, blacksmiths, descendants of blacksmiths and others who have knowledge of the work of the blacksmith and the forged gates of the area.
This project was funded by Creative Ireland and Galway County Council with voluntary contributions from Skehana Heritage and Holy Rosary College Mountbellew