Mongovan’s Forge

Remains of Mongovan’s forge c. 1980

Mongovan’s forge, located in front of the school, operated for about 70 years until its closure in the 1940s. The shell of the premises remains today. In view of its proximity to the school, it is appropriate to mention it in this history. The presence of horses, the sound of the anvil and the smell of the burning hoof and iron must have been part of the school scene for the pupils.

The origin of the forge dates back to the early 1870s. Paddy Mongovan, a blacksmith from Kilkee, married Margaret Kelly and settled in Tonlegee. He built the forge at Lack Cross with the help of the local population and developed a good business. His main activity consisted of shoeing horses, and making cartwheels, garden spades, shovels and slanes. The nearby river was used to cool the heated iron.

Paddy Mongovan’s son, known as ‘Major’, followed his father’s footsteps, learning the trade and taking over the forge after his father. He married a local girl named Hickey.
On the death of Paddy Mongovan on Christmas Day 1900 and his son ‘Major’ in 1903, Michael Frawley took charge of the forge. He had worked in the forge for some years, having served his apprenticeship with the Mongovans.

Michael Frawley closed the forge in 1918 and toured the county as a travelling blacksmith. He returned in 1925. In the meantime, the roof of the forge had collapsed. A dance was held at Mongovans to gather funds to re-roof the forge and Michael Frawley was soon back in business. Sometime later he abandoned the forge, never to return.

Bawnie Murphy, who married Bid Mongovan, continued the business for some time, assisted by his son Joe. The forge closed for the last time in the 1940s.

An unusual feature of the forge is the fact that road shows were held there by night. In addition, Tommy Moore’s Silent Films made an annual visit. He travelled with his wife and two children by caravan. The films were shown in a tent erected by the forge. The entry charge was about 2p.